Christmas is the only holiday that can elicit such strong emotions from all of us – happy and sad. It brings out the best in folks making us want to help our fellow man. It is wrapped in the sweetness of standing next to my daughter harmonizing on Silent Night, watching little ones all wide eyed (and trying to get them to settle down after too much Christmas sugar cookies). It makes us nostalgic remembering Christmases in our past and missing loved ones who are no longer around the table for Christmas dinner. The unchurched for 364 days a year suddenly feel the urge to light a candle and sing with the congregation, and the churched help with the Christmas children’s program and special music.
Everyone from the checker at Walmart to the to the bagger at Kroger, to the bank teller has said Merry Christmas about a thousand times and come Christmas eve they go home and cook their own goodies and put their feet up and probably congratulate themselves for surviving another holiday season.
Tonight I stood in the congregation of a church I haven’t attended for some time because it is Christmas and we lost a special member not long ago. I heard tonight that another member had passed a few days ago. I felt a need to be there, to connect with people that like my family, I don’t see often but still feel a part of. That is probably the single strongest emotion that Christmas brings to all of us – a need to reconnect. Even the act of giving and receiving gifts is a part of that. For one time in the year it is socially acceptable to show that we see each other and that we mean something to each other. All the daily stuff stops. Even the act of cooking and feeding each other has meaning and special traditional foods bring back memories of times when we were with family and now are with family again even if family is now scattered. If separated by miles we connect through cards and phone calls.
We mark the passing of the years with Christmases. Christmas when the kids were little, Christmas when the grandparents were alive, the Christmas of the ice storm and the Christmas I gave birth to my son. The year Mama was here and we drug her all over town singing carols.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus who became part of the family of man so we could become part of the family of God by connecting with family each year whether they are family by blood or by friendship or just human beings. We were not blessed financially this year but we were certainly blessed through connections. We have people who love us and continually hold us up in their prayers. They continually feed us and give us gifts even though they are not always wrapped in pretty paper and ribbon. I don’t miss the paper.