Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Magic of the Season

Christmas time had such magic for me as a child. I remember vividly the rush of excitement that grew steadily in the weeks before. Filled with anticipation, my sister and I would giggle ourselves to sleep each night barely able to stand the wait.

Every thing about the season was magical, from the lights my father strung on the house and tree to the miniature log home that my grandfather made that we set beneath it. I loved that little house. It was made of hefty twigs and a metal and tar paper roof that lifted off so we could put a light inside.

When I was old enough I got to be the one to set it up amidst the folds of the white sheet that became the snow beneath our tree. A miniature family lived in the house and they owned a couple of sheep, a dog and kitten. A beautiful little Christmas tree stood in their front yard.

We had a creche as well and some years I was allowed to set it up near the house. I made sure the angel always looked over the little family.

I often lay beneath the lighted tree at night when all was quiet and the rest of the family was asleep. I felt comforted by the "specialness" of it all and clung to every moment.

As an adult there are times when it seems the magic has gone out of the season. Worn down by the demands of life it was easy to shift my attention to trying to create that magic for my children. Their enjoyment became mine. But they grew up and somewhere a long the way, so did I, and the sense of magic slipped away.

It makes me wonder how many people feel the way I do this year. Life has been hard for so many. I shudder to think of the number of people who are still young with small children who are not going to be able to give their children the Christmas they had hoped to. So many people and families are wondering not only where they are going to get the money to buy their children gifts but how they are going to pay the mortgage or the electric bill. Going without in a season that is so focused on gifting and abundance makes one more acutely aware of their lack. Not to be able to give in a season of giving is more painful than not receiving.

In times like these, our fundamental humanness should call us to consider not only our own needs, but the needs of others, even if we are the ones that are lacking. Finding a need and filling it, may be the very best gift we can give ourselves. In the process we may just rediscover the meaning of the season. We may find our childlike wonder renewed as we watch a smile cross another person's face, because of something we have done for them. We all have gifts to give that are more valuable to another than something that might be wrapped up in a box.  

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