Christmas is a special time for my family. I love everything about it, from the music to the decorations—even the mad rush of finding the perfect presents. I especially love the holiday movies. There are a handful I watch every year, no matter what: A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version) and It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart. I also like While You Were Sleeping because it makes me laugh, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Bet I surprised you with that last one, huh? Still, it’s just not Christmas until Linus gives his famous speech.
The past few years, however, have been quite different from my experience growing up in the wintery north. Since moving to Texas, we’ve traded snow days for hurricanes and Yule logs for bonfires held outdoors. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is the annual parade and lighting of the Christmas tree downtown. Afterward, my family and I pack up a thermos of hot chocolate—even if the weather is eighty degrees outside—and head out into the neighborhood to find the best lighting display of the season.
Of course Christmas isn’t just about lights. Many years ago, my husband and I started a tradition that has become one of my kids’ favorite things about the holiday. We noticed that after weeks of anticipation, Christmas morning came and went in a mad rush of shredded paper and gifts swiftly examined and tossed aside. To avoid this, we began opening presents the week before Christmas, one gift per day for the seven days leading up to Christmas morning. Instead of ripping open a present and tossing it aside, our kids savored each gift and shared them with their friends. One year my daughter wore a sweater she had received to go Christmas shopping. Later that night, we sat down as a family to enjoy a video my son received. It was our way of extending the joy of gift-giving but also teaching our children to appreciate the giver. It’s in that appreciation that our children learned to hold close to those important people in their lives.
I was reminded of that a few years ago when my mother-in-law passed away from cancer. Driving home to Texas after the funeral, I was listening to the CD of our church’s Christmas musical and thinking there was no way I wanted to participate that year when my heart was so heavy. But then a song called “Joy, Joy” came on. Listening to those words, I realized that Jesus had indeed come to bring joy, even in the very worst moments of despair. I must have been a sight, I tell you, singing at the top of my lungs, the windows rolled down and tears streaming down my face, “Jesus has come to bring joy!”
That lesson has never left me. I’ve tried to teach my children to enjoy Christmas with all of their hearts. This Holy Child, Jesus, was born for each one of us, including you. He lived and died for you. My prayer is that you will make him yours this holiday season. May your season be blessed.
Has there been a song, Christmas or otherwise, that has been significant in your life?
Most Recent Release: Dark Road Home
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