I love Christmas.
Our family Christmas is built around traditions. We go out each year on the day after Thanksgiving and carefully select the acceptably perfect tree. We set the tree in place in front of the living room window, carefully centering it from every possible direction. The family leaves the room, and sometimes even the house, while I put on the lights. We trim the tree with the prized decorations collected over the years. We laugh about the ones I painted as a child (the ones my mother only let me paint the back side). On evenings before Christmas, we light candles and play board games by the tree. The house is cozy and warm. Sometimes it even snows.
After the Christmas Eve church service, we pick up dinner at a very specific place. We take a late night walk around town and look at the Christmas lights. We return home and admire our cozy house. We all agree that our house looks the best.
We tell stories about Christmases past. About the time when I was about 6, my brothers 11 and 15. A huge snowstorm hit on Christmas Eve. My brothers and I went outside late in the evening, as the snow piled up, and built a sled run on the hill in the backyard. It started on top of the old picnic table (for extra elevation), moved down the hill and then made a sharp bank to the right at the bottom of the hill before the fence. We sprayed water on the packed snow, to create an icy surface for added speed. We three brothers, whose interactions frequently looked like fighting, worked peacefully together for hours moving and packing snow, making the perfect sled run.
One part of Christmas for me is a yearning for home: a warm and cozy place filled with family and feasts, stories and laughter, right relationships and peace. Although reality frequently does not match the romantic ideal, when it comes close, there is nothing that tastes sweeter.
Our best Christmas moments are an imperfect foretaste of life in our true home. The home where the table will always be full; where sickness and death will be no more; where wars will cease and the lion will lie down with the lamb; where of peace there will be no end. It is the home we are welcomed to by the Father as adopted sons and daughters, through the work of the Son, born as a baby in the City of David on the first Christmas day.
May your Christmas be sweet and your heart filled with praise. May we join with that multitude of angels saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”