IN SEARCH OF CHRISTMAS
I went in search of Christmas and discovered where the magic awaits . . .
Christmas is a magical time. We dare to dream the impossible and consider it plausible. We smile more, laugh more, remember more.
It’s easy to get caught up in the gift-giving and anticipating, the feasting and rushing from task to task to sounds of Christmas carols, both old and new. To embrace the familiar and be less skeptical of the strange.
In this season, we speak more to strangers, notice more those who need a helping hand, open more our hearts and our wallets and snag a tag off a tree and buy a gift for a child we never see. We stuff a grocery sack with all the “fixings” for a holiday meal and support the charities who work tirelessly all year to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.
Christmas brings out the best in us. Oh, we exhaust ourselves rushing to get all the extra things we must do done, and we grow impatient waiting in lines and with those who impose on our burgeoning schedules with just one more thing that we simply must do, but somehow we manage to get it done.
We tolerate the nutty uncle or aunt, sigh at those who don’t celebrate the holiday yet feel compelled to object to it to wreck it for the rest of us. We forgive the dog forsnitching ornaments off the tree, the kids for encouraging the dog to chew through gift wrap so they can sneak a peek at the mysterious something inside. We make exceptions, take exception, and hustle enough to last a year.
But at some point we pause, maybe while baking cookies or wrapping presents, and we remember other Christmases. Maybe the one when we got that first bike, or gave that first bike to our child and we saw the wonder dance in his or her eyes. That wonder . . . .
Recalled, we fleetingly experience the magic of the moment again, and we ache longingly for more than a whisper or hint of it. We ache to slide into it, to submerge and revel. We’d even wallow. But alas, in things, there is but a hint, a wisp of wonder, and so we search for something with more.
In every life, we reach a point where we look back. Sometimes more often than we’d like. At Christmas, as on other special occasions, we remember those important in our lives who are no longer with us. We miss them, those often simpler times, and because we do, we grow introspective and melancholy. And at Christmas, there seems to be a million triggers that bring back memories and glimpses of the past that now are to us bittersweet.
As I sit here and think of the best and worst in the season and in us, I wonder what God thinks of our rituals and celebrations. I wonder what He thinks often, and naturally my thoughts turn to this: What did God think and feel that first Christmas night?
Knowing what He knew His son would face for us, that night, God watched Mary and Joseph travel, watched the innkeeper turn them away, watched them enter a stable to give birth to the King. God watched the birth of Christ, His beloved son, knowing all. How did He feel on seeing Jesus in Mary’s arms for the first time? When He saw Joseph look upon Jesus with wonder and awe?
Knowing His son’s destiny . . . Surely God too felt bittersweet.
I’m such an imperfect parent, but I so love my children. I imagine being in that position of having to choose to keep my child safe with me or set him out into a world where he will be ridiculed, abused, tortured and sacrificed. I couldn’t do it. I’m too weak. Knowing the costs to the rest of the world, I am still too weak.
God was strong, the perfect parent. But, a question travels through my mind . . . What if He hadn’t been? What then?
We would all be lost.
And what of Christ? What if He hadn’t been willing?
If He hadn’t been, we would all be lost. But He was willing. And because God was willing and Christ was willing, we are spared. Through Him, we have eternal life.
These thoughts strike me as a blessing and a burden. That realization is the most awesome and humbling thing. My emotions and thoughts riot. Imagine it.
Think of all that must have been on God’s mind that night. The pride, the joy, the fruition of plans laid long before, the promise placed in the hearts and hopes of millions. It had to be overwhelming–far too vast for a mere mortal to grasp much less fully comprehend. But God is God, and being all knowing, he did grasp and he did comprehend. The magnitude of that had to be a burden and a blessing to him. It had to make that night bitter and sweet. And the blessing to us all the more difficult for Him.
I mean, as parents we might have anxiety for our babies, but we also have hope and faith they’ll be protected and guided and nurtured and loved. We don’t anticipate the types of things that God knew would befall His child. He was fully aware. Fully aware. Think about that for a second. The power in it knocks me to my knees.
Because He knew and because He loves us and His child loves us unconditionally, we have that protection. That promise. That hope.
Overwhelmed, I look out the kitchen window to the sign in my yard that reads, “Jesus is the reason for the season” and I smile.
With these thoughts still on my mind, I go to the store, where a greeter wishes me happy holidays. Thoughtful and kind and natural to him, and I respond in the way that’s natural to me: “Merry Christmas.” We share smiles and go about our day.
This is the season of Christ. The celebration of His birth. It isn’t a winter holiday. It isn’t a winter festival. It is a season, but not one of mere greetings. Christmas is not a generic holiday. It is specific. It is significant. It was the night mankind received the greatest gift that can be given. And it was given through the ultimate sacrifice.
God knew. Christ knew.
And so it is with a bittersweet and grateful heart that insignificant matters like being politically correct are dismissed as the distraction they are, and Christ is given His rightful place front and center in my celebration.
This is Christmas. The sacred time of honoring the birth of Jesus Christ. It is His season.
In remembering that, or discovering it, or rediscovering it, we experience the magic and wonder we’ve heard much about, and there, we find, in it resides the true meaning of Christmas.❖
© 2014, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is Down and Dead in Dixie. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.