Christmas. One of my favorite times of year. Lights, presents, food, family, friends, music, food, presents… j/k..

We always had a very Christ-centered Christmas growing up. Yes, Santa came, and we put cookies and milk out for him sometimes (though I think Mrs. Claus visited our house more than Santa did- equal opportunity and all, you know? 😉 )

christmas-tree

This year, my lights were up, gifts were thoughtfully selected and wrapped, and music played once more.

My favorite memories include listening to old 8-tracks of Bing Crosby while just sitting together looking at the lights on the tree, driving around looking at lights, making Christmas cookies, gifts and ornaments, and putting up the nativity. We had a very simple nativity that fascinated me. Joseph’s staff was metal, and could come out of his hand, and Baby Jesus could come out of the manger and be carried around, as long as Mom didn’t catch you with him!

When I started going to a Pentecostal church, that changed. Suddenly, there were no lights, no trees, no cookies, and, eventually, no nativities. But I secretly and guiltily continued to remember Christmas- the wonderful, miraculous time of year for kids and adults. Santa might be a bit mystical, but he was also an example of how to give generously and selflessly. Trees and nativities weren’t idols, but reminders of the holiday, decorations for the house, and part of a family tradition. Lights and music and gifts were ways of sharing beauty and joy with others. What was wrong with Christmas? Where was the joy I’d known growing up?

This year, my lights were up, gifts were thoughtfully selected and wrapped, and music played once more. No, there was no tree. And there just wasn’t time to locate and set up the nativity. But for the first time in years, I am celebrating Christmas. Not the pagan holiday some portray, but the miracle of Jesus’ birth, the beauty of my life in him, and the joy of giving from the heart.

On earth, peace and goodwill toward men.

Merry Christmas!