It’s two days before Christmas Eve and suddenly I’m reflecting on Christmas memories from year’s past. Its bittersweet. For about five years now I’ve found that Christmas has lost its steam, its potential, its wow factor. I’ve come to realize it’s not as fun of a holiday when you’re all grown up. Sure, if I had kids I could make it my job to give them the best impression that an obese man with a beard actually makes it to every house overnight with reindeer pulling toys on a sleigh- no bathroom breaks required. I don’t have kids so for now, I look to others and build as much of the fun as I can.
Like many others, I think the era of Christmas itself has changed due to technology and consumerism. I complain now for a very good reason: I spent the peak Christmas years for a child in Anchorage, Alaska in the mid 80’s. Let me tell you, it gets no better for Christmas than that. Folks my age and older will agree. Back then, things were simpler. With mountains surrounding the city and our proximity to the North Pole, it required no stretch of the imagination to believe that fat man would make it down the chimney so many of us had. With real reindeer roaming around the surrounding forests in the outskirts of the city it was easy to wonder if they were a part of the magic eight out on a stroll when they weren’t busy pulling the jolly fat guy around with his toys. We also attended church and knew of the spiritual meaning of the day: the day which we celebrate Jesus’ birth but I’ll admit as a kid the presents were much more exciting!
Now as an adult, I as well as other 80s babies are now consumed with coordinating work/travel schedules, meal planning and gift buying… which all but a smaller portion of joy is removed to be experienced once everything comes together for Christmas dinner. The long awaited, child-like excitement is now replaced with budgeting and other mild stresses along with other adults who feel nearly the same way. The real reason of the day becomes more apparent and important. Jesus replaces the jolly fat guy. We each become a little bit responsible for the fate of the world around us.
Like my grandmother says, “Enjoy your youth.”
My offering to you at the height of this season (I apologize for not getting to you before now) is for a little bit of that child-like wonder to return to your heart. Remember when you went to bed on Christmas Eve and you were excited beyond words? Remember when you woke up feeling like you hadn’t slept at all but daylight was in the window and you knew this was one of the best days of the year? May that feeling return and make itself known. May your dinner table be packed with food and your smiles and laughter come often. May you wonder if only for a second whether that fat, jolly man might’ve made his way around to every heart bringing the gift of peace.