Although I don't go head over heels with decorations, I adore setting out my nativity sets, wreaths, and candles, and will sit contentedly admiring the Christmas tree, letting the memories that each ornament brings wash over me.
The smells of gingerbread, lemon peel, cloves, and peppermint whisk me back to happy childhood days baking cookies and Christmas treats with my mother, and more recently with my own brood.
Holiday cards from friends and family far and near grace the door frame between my dining room and loving room. I appreciate the effort it takes to get those cards in the mail, because my own cards have not made it out the door even 3 days after Christmas - but I rationalize that they will be appreciated all the more after the busyness of Christmas settles down.
Christmas music playing on the radio - or iPod, and Christmas movies like "It's a Wonderful Life", "The Nativity Story", and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" all put me in the holiday mood. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service with my family, welcoming Christmas Day as the clock strikes midnight, is another meaningful tradition. Most of all, I love being surrounded by my family. Four of my five children are nestled again in their beds, while the fifth is nestled in a cot in a tent with 30 or so other soldiers in Kuwait.... but at least we got to Skype on Christmas Day!!!
I hate shopping, as a rule, but I love giving gifts to the people I love. I did the Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh gifts again this year, and it really helped give me direction and purpose in choosing meaningful gifts for my family. Gold gifts = the "big" gift that is valuable or desired; Frankincense = a gift related to spiritual growth or worship; Myrrh = a practical gift for the body. Stockings are filled with small items like toothbrushes, candy, toiletries, socks, gum, batteries, magazines, pocket knife, Starbucks and iTunes gift cards, ice scrapers, and football cards. I knitted these Christmas stockings years ago, when my kids were babies - they are nice and stretchy.
Sarah and Amanda both were busy with the yarn and crochet hooks this fall, and Eric and Mark were the glad recipients.
Is it really worth all the hoopla? Is Christmas really worth the money, energy, time, and effort it demands? Well, it depends on why you do it. If it is something to check off the To Do list as you trudge through the calendar, then you might not think so.
If the trappings of the holiday obliterate the reason for the celebration, which is the unmatchable gift of Christ the King, our Savior, then it's probably not.
But if you view Christmas is a special gift - an opportunity - to engage in meaningful traditions and create cherished memories with loved ones, then it is priceless, and as enchanting for me at age 51 as it was when I was 5. I thank God for loving me SO much that He sent His one and only Son, so that through Him I can be assured of everlasting life! I thank God for the rich treasure I have received in family, friends, home, and traditions. With Christ at the center of it all, Christmas is not a chore or cheap commercialism or something to endure, but a wonderful, delightful time of celebration and commemoration. It's the birthday of the King!
Even as we give to one another, we remember the poor, the sick, the widows, the orphans, and give to help them as well... through The Salvation Army Kettle, Operations Christmas Child, TOMS shoes, sponsoring a child in Africa through Ten Eighteen, Inc.....
Because of Jesus - who He is and what He has done - it truly is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I hope it has been for you too.