It’s Christmas Eve. A day when hearts are warm. When hope, is often high. When life feels full.
Or, adversely, life, for some, can feel very empty. It can feel void of a person. A place. A thing. A time.
Christmas. So this is Christmas.
Some people have mentioned that they are having a hard time this year. A hard time finding the joy. The jolly. The reasons for merriment.
Some say they feel stressed. And hurried. And financially stretched.
Some feel the winter of their lives. They feel their illness. Their fears. Their reality.
Some feel sad. Lonely. Missing… something. Someone.
And some feel a mix of emotions. For the joy they get to experience with their grandkids. Or children. Or friends. But a loss of someone from their yesteryears.
Christmas time is here. A time when the world can sometimes find it within itself to be a little softer. A little calmer. A little kinder.
But then. It can also not. It can bring to light, more than other times of year, the dichotomy between the haves and have nots. It can be a reminder of memories of better times. Better years. Happier memories. And current hardships. It can make people think, “If I don’t have love in my heart at Christmas, then when, oh when, will I?”
This. This is Christmas.
But I believe. My friends, I believe in the power of Christmas. The true miracles of the season. The hope. The comfort. The joy.
When I look at the tree. The lights, twinkling. The houses lit up like the star that guided Mary and Joseph to the Inn. The music, with words of peace, and love. And light. When I see the joy of children… not just mine… universally, the children… the true magic they have filling every bit of their bones at this time of year. The belief in something they can’t see. When I look at the gifts, under the tree…
This is Christmas. And for me, every day of the season is a living, active, personified reminder of the true gift that Jesus was to the world.
And whether you believe in Jesus or not… the hope… the love… the joy… the comfort… I believe that it can be felt… whether you believe in the ultimate gift that God gave us on the very first Christmas or not.
This. This is Christmas.
Whether you believe in 8 nights… or Santa… or Solstice… or an Elf… or Jesus. I believe that Christmas is not just a day. But a season. Not just a thing. But a feeling. Not just about the gathering of gifts. But the gathering of families. If possible. The spreading of joy. And comfort. The merriment of playing games and getting together with those who fill your heart just as the season does. Of drinking warm mugs and eating delicious treats. Of celebrating. Celebrating the miracle that at Christmas, we are a little better than we are the whole year through. And it can be yours.
It is still magic to me. At age 34. It is truly bubbling up inside of me. The gratitude for getting to be alive at Christmas. To feel joy. To see love in action. To smile and to know that this is what God had in mind when he gave us his son. When he gave us our sons. That we would share kindness. And good will. To all men. Women. Children. And creatures. At least, at Christmas.
It has been quite the year in our household. In our family. In our world.
It hasn’t always been easy. It hasn’t been magical… not in every moment, at least. It hasn’t been effortless. For me though, my heart is endlessly full.
But not everyone feels that when it’s hard.
I am sure there are some of you reading this who can agree. You can agree that the year in your rear view mirror may not be a true Norman Rockwell painting. It may have been different than you would have hoped. It may have been harder than hard. You may be waiting for love. Or a baby. Or a cure. Or a money tree or just for things to go your way. Maybe the world around you had felt cold. And the news headlines plague your joy. It may not have felt like a gift.
But Christmas… it’s a day to feel alive. Andit gives me belief in the good. Perspective of the true gift that is life.
So much is calm. Even in the noise. So much can still be bright. Even in the darkest of times.
The end of the year is upon us… but with Christmas falling right before, it’s like a big bow, wrapping up the life that has been had in 2016. Whether good or bad. Whether easy or hard. The victory of an earthly life. Culminated in the celebration of Jesus’ birth.
It may not bring you joy this year. That is the truth. But the optimism is that, in God giving his son to us, there is hope. Hope in the things to come. If the present doesn’t feel much like a present.
If your heart. Your home. Your health. Or your head. Feel empty. I wish you a comfort in your heart on this day. And through the rest of this year.
If you feel, like me, bubbling over with the true spirit of the season. If you feel like all is right, when all is calm and bright. If you, too, look at the tree and feel the world a little more right. If you believe that in giving, you are living. In the laughter, you feel love. In Christmas, you feel life. Then write it down somewhere this year. So that, in the unknown years to come, you can always look back and have a true reminder of the times that you have felt Christmas in your heart.
And then. The greatest challenge of all, “To keep Christmas in your heart. And to honor it all the year through.” To recognize that the magic doesn’t just appear every day. You have to seek out the goodness. The love. The joy. The peace. The comfort. And honor it in each day. Or at least, once a month…
So this is Christmas. It means a million different things and traditions and moments and morsels to so many. Because it’s not just a word. It’s a season of the heart. Of time. And of the world.
And it can be yours, if you let it fill you today.
Be still. Be grateful. Be joyous, if possible. Be present. And full of the peace that these next 24 hours can bring.
Next year, all your troubles may be miles away. Or they may be greater than now. Hold tight to this day. This gift. This feeling.
And let it make you thankful to be here. In the now.
Hug the ones who are physically near. They won’t always be. Be thankful for the chaos. For that means you have. Be thankful for the kindness that others might bring. Be thankful for the doctors who have blessed you with health. Remember those who are no longer with you fondly and with gratitude that you ever got the chance to make memories with them. Be thankful for their spirit. Their impact. Their everlasting life. And to those who are here but are not near, give them a call. A text. A virtual hug. Tell them they mean everything to you and that though you are not together this Christmas, some year, you will be again.
Maybe it has been your very best year yet. Maybe you welcomed a baby. You got married. Or you graduated. Maybe you got the biggest promotion. Or you just have found contentment. A contentment with an imperfectly perfect life. Maybe you have slowed down this Holiday season and soaked up the spirit of it all. Maybe you feel the joy. The true magic. The insanely intoxicating magic. The excitement. The anticipation. Of the day. Of the Christ Child. Of the reason for it all.
And so your heart is full. Not aching. It is in love with the moments. Even if the year wasn’t perfect, you know it has brought you here… to another marker of time… to Christmas.
It can be a time. And that time can be beautiful. Or devastatingly sad. It can be joyful. Or lonely. It is a gift from God to us and from us to our families. Our friends. Strangers. And really, to ourselves.
But this, THIS is Christmas. And it’s the only one this year will bring. So we must honor that and try our very hardest to keep it alive, all the year through.
So this is Christmas… another year over… a new one is to come.