Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas is in the Heart

My Christmas morning didn't always begin with, "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" We all have memories of some kind at Christmas. Many have sang, "Happy Birthday, Jesus", since they can remember. For some of us, Jesus wasn't the, "Reason for the Season." It was a time of joy, but a different joy than what my heart holds today.

Growing up I remember running to the tree on Christmas morning. I was singing, "Jingle Bells", and "Frosty the Snowman". I can see the decorations my mom placed throughout the house with tender care. I can even remember sitting out cookies and milk for Santa, but nothing for Jesus. It was all about the presents and snow and yes, the parades on television. I LOVED watching them as my mom was busy in the kitchen.

I do have to say, by Christmas morning most of our presents were already opened. My dad and I opened ours most years way before Christmas morn. He loved this time of year. I think he loved unwrapping gifts just as much as me. He would say, "Rob, if you wanna open a gift you can." He knew that always followed with, "Sure dad, you can too!" All the while my mom was shaking her head.

I remember that last Christmas with my dad. I had worked really hard. It was actually my first year of styling hair and he was so very proud of that. I saved and saved and purchased him a gold watch. That year he too did his own Christmas shopping and I received a gold heart pendant necklace from him. One of the best Christmas memories I hold dear.

I can look back today and I could ponder the thought that Jesus was absent from our Christmas celebration, but was He really? Jesus is love and my home with my parents was filled with love. Although I didn't hear the Christmas story of Christ's birth, His love was still very alive and present. He is in ALL goodness! It is that very goodness that lead me straight to Him.

Although those years hold very special memories for me, the best Christmas ever was the Christmas I realized it was all about Jesus. After meeting my now husband, every Christmas we have shared together has been about our Savior. Sure, we have our tree up and presents under the tree, but Santa wasn't present in our home, except for cartoons the children enjoyed. Our children knew it wasn't about gifts under the tree at all, but about the birth of our Savior. God's precious gift to us. We wanted our children to experience the real joys of Christmas. 

It was as though once I was filled with this Christmas joy, well, Christmas was never the same. It was better. It now held perfect meaning. No matter if there was a gift under the tree with my name on it or if there were ten, I held a new joy in my heart. Every gift was now given in celebration of Him. Every card was sent to share His message of love.

We celebrated Christmas yesterday with our children. It has been a long time since most of our family has been together for Christmas. It is so wonderful to have a grandchild in the home for Christmas. Our home was filled with laughter. Delicious foods covered our table as my husband readied to pray. After all our children left and went about their day my hubs and I went for a drive. We were actually going to care for a friends pet as they were off with family. We saw eight deer on the drive home. We enjoyed sweet conversation. That evening we enjoyed a few scoops of ice cream to end our perfect day.

Our Christmas mornings are a bit different now as the years have passed. No more children running to the tree to rip and tear, shouts of joy and laughter before the sun rises. Those years have passed and although I miss them, they are held in a special place within my heart to look back on with great joy. Now they are a little quieter. We wake a little later and sip our coffee together as the news plays before us. Our children are all grown and gather with family and friends as they try to make room to visit everyone. This year my husband had to leave on Christmas morning to head for Pennsylvania. Someone has to make sure that mail arrives for those loved ones waiting patiently. So our son and I will make today a special day together. We may even take in a movie this afternoon. Whatever we do today it will be special.  

See, it really doesn't matter what day you celebrate Christmas. Christmas is alive and well in your heart. The Spirit of Christmas is here with us always. Christ the Savior. As I woke this morning, He was my first thought. My first quiet words were, "Happy Birthday, Jesus, Happy Birthday to You." As each of us woke, it was then, "Good Morning, Merry Christmas!"

Most of us have holes in our hearts as we miss those who are no longer with us. But there are bright glimmers of hope that shine through as we look back with memories of love and laughter. Our mornings are a little different than they were twenty years ago with little ones running everywhere. Today as you celebrate Jesus, those people we love are not so far away. They are only one thought away. One prayer away. I can close my eyes and go back home, sitting before the tree with my parents. I can go back in time, looking at pictures that captured the glow in our children's eyes on Christmas morn. Pick up that phone and give those a call you haven't talked to in years. Make today a day to remember always. No matter what you do or where you are, you can celebrate today with the love of Christ.

Merry Christmas, friends! Happy Birthday, Jesus!
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