I can still see it all when I close my eyes. To this day, thirty years later, the memory of that night still holds the same magic.
Christmas Eve filled our home with family and friends every year. Soup warming on the stove, cups of hot cocoa warming hands and a feeling of pure magic. We had spent the four weeks leading up to this night lighting the candles around our advent wreath, Christmas caroling, sledding, and frosting cookies. One night had been dedicated to pulling out big boxes from the storage closet and hanging all the ornaments on the tree. We’d brought it home from the tree farm together and were under its spell once the twinkling lights were cast onto its branches.
Even twinkling lights on evergreens couldn’t out shine this night though. After friends piled in, the lights were lowered and candlelight glowed. Sitting in a ring, children’s faces looked up as one of the father’s spoke softly telling us that the baby Jesus had been born and that we were going to go look for him under the stars. We wandered through the false night of my house, candles in each room, giggling, running ahead trying to be the first to find the Saviour.
Finally, as we reached the basement, we saw a shepherd, seated beside an empty manger and aglow by candles, he was waiting for us. My father was dressed in his red hooded bathrobe, his Bible open as we gathered around him. He whispered that we had just missed Mary and Joseph and the new born King, (they had to escape to Egypt!), but he wanted to share all that he and the other shepherds had seen and heard. I can still picture his face, his expressions, sharing so earnestly about the Lord he loved, the one I knew he met with when I watched him read that same Bible each morning. . . .
And then he read the story of the Birth of Jesus and we were captivated- won over forever in that moment with the wonder of Christmas, with the wonder of Christ.
I carry the magic of this night with me still, but more importantly I carry the message of Jesus in my heart. A memory was forged, artistically and with beauty that night, and it made a lasting impression because my parents, and the others gathered with them, sought to make Jesus real to us little children, sought to share him in a way that would awaken wonder in our souls that Christmas. From the simple traditions to the grand gestures this season, the time we invest with our kids, when their curiosity and questions are already pouring out, has the capacity to shape their souls for eternity. This is a season for feasting and celebration, and a time for our children to come to table, maybe for the very first time, to taste and see that the Lord is good.
You, sweet moms and dads, are the makers of these moments. You have the beautiful privilege of sharing JOY with your children, of revealing to them more of your own delight and telling them that the wonder and love they see in your face pales in comparison to God’s love for them. When you enter your child’s world this season, when you contemplate how to share Christ with them in a way that appeals to their little hearts, when you take time to giggle, to bake, to get messy and to craft with them? That work is sacred. So in the chaos of this time of year, in the midst of all the tasks before you that keep on stretching into the new year, don’t forget that making even just one memory with one heart in your home is a legacy that lasts and is worth all your effort to invest in. At Christmastime, and always.
With great hope for God’s grace to meet us in this season,