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I creep down the hall with my sisters beside me and open the door to our family room. The lights from the movie camera in my dad’s hands, along with the twinkling lights on the tree, transform this most familiar room into a magical place. As my eyes adjust, I see that Santa has, indeed, been here. I can hardly believe that this long anticipated day has finally come. It’s all too good to be true! As we travel to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, this feeling never leaves me- the most special day of the year has at last, really and truly, arrived.

These days, time seems to pass much more quickly. Yesterday we took down our tree and tomorrow will begin a brand new year.

The week between Christmas and New Years is always bittersweet for me. It’s still a time of celebration but it’s a bit of a letdown, too.

I remember as a new mother how I couldn’t wait to create, for my children, Christmases like those of my childhood. I wanted my kids to experience the same joy and wonder of those magical holidays and, on some level, to relive those feelings myself. Then, before I could blink an eye, their days of writing letters to Santa and climbing into his lap were behind us. I couldn’t hang on to their childhoods anymore than my own.

As an adult I try to focus on giving, and I try hard to keep Christ as the center of the season. I try to do all the things that I believe will create a meaningful holiday, but something in me still wishes for the feelings of wonder and anticipation that accompanied those long ago celebrations of Christ’s birth. Somehow something seems to be lacking. I feel the way my son must have felt one Christmas morning. He was four years old and had asked for some sort of Batman toy. I’m sure I looked for it in my quest to create that perfect holiday, but apparently I failed in my attempt. I don’t remember if I bought a similar toy by mistake or if what he had asked for was the hot item that year and impossible to find, but we have recorded on 1988’s video, Seth bringing his gift to show me, exclaiming excitedly, “Look Mama! It’s almost like the one I wanted!”

Like my son with his present, the season is special…but not exactly everything I’d hoped for. The truth is, even if I found the perfect gift for everyone on my list at 50% off, had them wrapped with hand-decorated paper by Halloween (giving me time to focus on “what’s important”), served scrumptious holiday meals, in settings reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting, to my loved ones (as well as those less fortunate who might be lonely or in need), had my tastefully decorated home featured on the cover of Southern Living (donating all proceeds to the Salvation Army), and sent 100 shoeboxes overseas with Operation Christmas Child… there would still be something missing.

One of my children had to copy the following poem in school one year. I don’t know who wrote it, but I’d like to thank them because, to me, this poem takes the pressure off the holidays and extends the joy of the season into the new year. It puts things in perspective and reminds me that it’s not all about creating one perfect day.

 

Be Loving and kind

Do the best you can do

   And each day of the year

      Will be Christmas for you!

     I’m learning that in this life, not only at Christmas, but all year long, the best I can do…is the best I can do. And, for now, it’s enough.

I don’t think God intends to fully satisfy on this earth my desire for the magic of those long-ago Christmases because He has so much more in store that He wants me to long for. When I remember how I wanted to create a perfect day for my children, I can only begin to imagine what God is creating for His children. When I think about actually being with Jesus one day, I’m filled with anticipation and excitement not unlike the feelings I experienced as a little girl awaiting Santa’s arrival. When I remember the disbelief I felt upon opening the door to the family room of my childhood home to find that Christmas had come, I imagine how I’ll feel one day when I open the door to the home God has prepared for me. Like the lights from my daddy’s 8 millimeter camera, the brightness will blind me for an instant and, as my eyes adjust, I’ll see that all I had hoped for and so much more has finally arrived…

If you, like me, were blessed with magical Christmases, I pray you will remember that, even though it seemed like Christmas would never come, it always did. I pray God will help you know, especially if hard times come your way this year, that even though heaven sometimes seems like a dream, if you know Jesus, one day it will be a reality. If you never experienced the joy of Christmas that I’ve described, I pray God will fill you with excitement as you anticipate all He has in store, which is so much more than any earthly celebration could ever be!

Happy New Year!

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