Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When Do You Know It's Christmas?

One year I nearly missed Christmas. We had just moved to the sunny South and summer seemed to linger on...and on. December came with balmy breezes and shirtsleeve weather. Without the first snowfall to alert me, I failed to shop, to send cards, to bake...to do much of anything until the boys, then 7, 10 and 12, stuck their wish lists in my face and shocked me into awareness.

Sometimes we get so caught up in preparing that we skip right over the event. Usually, though, there is one moment that defines the season. Maybe it's when the gifts are wrapped and under the tree, and you peek in at your sleeping children and wonder at their innocence before going to bed yourself.

Or it could be in the morning--the early morning--when you hear their excited giggles of anticipation.

It might happen before that. One time it was during the Christmas Eve service when we sang "Silent Night" with only candles to illuminate the words. We didn't need more light; we knew the song by heart. The peace and joy that filled the sanctuary was a miracle in itself.

Once it was after all the excitement was over: presents unwrapped, dinner eaten, the family sitting in front of the TV watching a cartoon special. I stepped outside to do something, take out the trash or shake the crumbs from a the tablecloth, when I looked up and saw the stars. The air was crisp and cold, and they shone like diamonds, so close I felt I could reach up and grab one in my hand.

The same stars that blazed in the same sky over 2000 years ago. And I felt the miracle of the birth they celebrated.

When does Christmas come for you? Do you savor the moment and hug it to your heart? Does it cause your breath to stop because the emotion is too much to bear?

I hope so. Then you know Christmas is really here.



  1. When I finally light the tree! This year was extra special because the grandson helped me finish decorating...and when the lights came on-his little eyes opened wide, he smiled that sweet smile, and said "Wow!" now it is officially Christmas.

    1. I love decorating the tree -- Everyone is eager to help put it up, but seem to disappear when it's time to "un-decorate" after New Year's.
      Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

  2. Christmas decorating is my thing! but it will be late this year because I've been waiting for new carpeting to be installed, which has been keeping me on edge! The installers are finally here, so I can at least put up the tree tomorrow. My grandson wants to help decorate, which will be nice for the weekend. I'm one of those who shop all year, usually on the Internet, so I won't have the hassle of last minute shopping and crowded stores.
    Put up the tree and some window decorations, wrap gifts, send out a few cards - and done! Makes a merry Christmas for me and my family.

  3. You are so smart to do your shopping early, Lila. I did better this year, thanks to amazon.com and am wrapping the gifts as they arrive so I won't be overwhelmed.
    Have a wonderful Christmas.

  4. Lovely post, Sandy. I'm never sure when that defining moment will hit for me year after year, but I try to treasure the whole season for what it was meant for and who brought it to us all those centuries ago.