I love Christmas! I love getting in the Christmas spirit. I love the decorating, finding the perfect gift for someone, baking, Christmas music, and the beautiful church services. I love everything about Christmas. We have a tradition in our home where the week after thanksgiving we get our tree, bake cookies, decorate the house and watch White Christmas at the end of the night together. I do this early in the season because I love the feeling I get from the smell of the tree, the lights flickering in the evenings and seeing the house full of cheer and I want it to linger as long as possible. Four weeks is never enough.
This year though things have been different. With Paloma away at school I decided that we wouldn’t decorate the tree until she came home which is the week before Christmas. I did decorate the mantle with our stockings but the full-blown Christmas I create in the house hasn’t occurred. I realized something last night though, although I haven’t been able to create this “feeling” through all the “things” I usually do I have most certainly felt the sprite of Christmas around me.
I have felt the peace of the season from the Paraklesis service our church has been having on Wed nights as we read “the Virgin draws neigh to bear thee, O Lord, who, shining timelessly from the Father, hast now come to be in time, setting us loose from the temporal passions of our souls. . .Rejoice exceedingly, O Zion; make ready, O Bethlehem. The Upholder of all things. . .He before whom the heavenly powers tremble, our only god, without suffering change is born in very truth from the Virgin.” I have felt joy as Subdeacon John and I prepare to be sponsors/God parents for our friend who will begin her journey toward the faith as a catechumen. I have felt a deep love as we serve our neighbors at the shelter a warm meal. I have experienced forgiveness and freedom as I made my confession with my Priest. Even still I have prayed for and mourned with a dear friend who is struggling to hold life all together.
The spirit of Christmas is all around. I realized I don’t have to make or create some synthetic happiness. We know that Christ is at work always and at every hour around us (John 5:17); it is up to me to be mindful and to join with Him in that work. When I do, I feel the joy, love, and hope that he brings to us all year-long.