Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting Ready for Christmas

There was too much going on in my life to really sit down and do a reflection on Thanksgiving this year.  Between church stuff and getting the stomach bug, my blogging took a hit during that holiday.  Intentionally deciding to spend as much time with family as possible also made blogging take a back seat, so I didn't share this little event...until now.

Because we had church the night before, we didn't do any traveling on Thanksgiving.  It was just the five of us who spent a quiet day enjoying each other's company.  I took the kids outside to the church playground early in the morning.  Many leaves had fallen from the pecan and ash trees on the playground, so I got my raked and proceeded to make a giant leaf pile.  The kids ran and jumped into it with enthusiasm.  It was particularly fun to watch Kevin, Jr. since he's still pretty short.  When he jumped into the pile, he almost disappeared!  He didn't seem to mind as he laughed and giggled the entire time.

But, as with most things, kids get board pretty quickly, so I told the kids it was time for us to go inside and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  They hustled inside and sat down to watch.  Thankfully, they were enthralled by what they were watching, so it gave me time to get in the kitchen and prepare our Thanksgiving meal.  (Yes.  I am the chief cook of the house.)

I finished up lunch just as the parade was finishing.  All along, we had told the kids that Santa Claus was coming at the end of the parade.  As the time was drawing near, they began to ask repeatedly, "Where's Santa?" 

My wife and I kept replying, "Just wait.  Be patient.  He's almost here."

The table was set.  The food was in place.  It was ready to go, but I wasn't about to tell the kids to get to the table just yet.  They wanted to see Santa.

And then, he appeared.  Jolly Old Saint Nick, wearing his red suit, white beard and driving his sleigh.  I'll not soon forget my children's reaction.

The three of them began yelling, "It's Santa!  It's Santa!  It's Santa!"  They jumped up and down.  They clapped with joy.  There was an absolute exuberance, an absolute joy, and an absolute innocence that brought tears to my eyes at that moment.  The holiday season came alive for those three kids as they saw Santa Claus appear on the screen.  His appearing meant Christmas was just around the corner, and now that they are all old enough to "get it" as far as Christmas is concerned, that meant it was time to be overly excited.

Oh for the faith of a child!!!

For many of us who have crossed that threshold into adulthood, Christmas has lost some of that magic.  We know what it is supposed to be all about.  Not Santa Claus or presents but the birth of Jesus.  We know the real "magic" behind everything, but we lose focus so easily.

We get bogged down in shopping for everyone on our list.  We call folks in advance asking what would be appropriate lest we disappoint someone with our shopping.  We stress over balancing time spent with our families--immediate and extended.  We worry about the bottom lines in our budgets as we shop.  Then many experience a heaping of guilt as every charitable institution in the book comes around to ask for assistance.  We want to help out, but our resources are limited even in the midst of our plenty.  The world of adults is much different than the world of children.

Oh, it's not that we don't feel joyful.  Many of us do.  We look at our kids and become joyful because they are joyful.  When they jump up and down on the couch screaming, "It's Santa!", our hearts come to life for just a moment because memories are rekindled back to the time when we felt such joy.  But is it possible for us to feel such joy on our own?  Without the aid of our children's happiness?  Without the aid of our children's naivete?

This holiday season, I'd like to challenge you to join me to prepare for Christmas so that the joy that is experienced isn't because we see someone else full of joy.  I'd like to challenge you to join me in preparing for Christmas so that when it is announced in whatever form you hear it that "Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.", your heart will leap with joy, and you too would be willing to jump up and down yelling, "He's here!  He's here!  He's here!" 

Life is too short to allow only our children to have and experience true joy.  Somehow.  Some way.  I believe that joy needs to be a part of our lives as well.  For us though, it might take a little bit more preparation to have it.

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