Over the years I have tried to capture the magic of that long ago Christmas, when against all odds, I received a bike from Santa. Each year, I wait until everyone is in bed and turn off all the lights except for the tree. I sit in my favorite chair and gaze at the soft lights glowing from the strands, wrapping it from head to toe, and I ponder the angel that sits at its top. I inhale the fragrance of fresh cut evergreens decorating the mantel and winding up the staircase. I conjure up memories of Christmases past, and they come back to me in bits and pieces – sometimes bringing with them images of those I’ve loved and lost. My mother is always there because she loved the glitz and glitter and passed it down to me. My Daddy’s there too, with me riding on his back, trudging through the woods with ax in hand, searching for the perfect tree. I dig deep into the memory shelf and almost grasp it, but I can only hold onto it for a second and then it’s gone. I know I should be happy for that fleeting second, but I long for more and I've always been a little despondent when Christmas is over.
Tonight as I sit in front of the tree, I find myself finally content with the present Christmas. Sure, the tugging of the heart as I search the memory shelf is still there causing me to catch my breath with wonder. And yes, there’s still a bit of longing for the child in me to surface and hear the faint sound of sleigh bells ringing and the sound of reindeer landing on my roof. I still see the excitement in the eyes of my children on Christmas morning after Santa had visited, and had somehow provided all the things they had asked for no matter what our financial situation at the time.
I have always known the Christ side of Christmas and embraced it – the Savior who was born in a stable in Bethlehem. I've reverently observed the holiday as a Holy Day. But I’ve often tried too hard for the glitter to fill me with wonder, rather than the Christ Child. But glitter is only flaky little bits of fluff drifting in and out of your heart without filling it. I realize that what truly fills my heart is the love that I have for my family and friends…and the hope and promises that came with the babe in a manger - and Christmas is no longer a let-down when the day is done.