The first Christmas I remember was while our family was still living near Chicago. I think I was 4 or 5. I was so excited I kept running downstairs only to be swatted back upstairs by mom and dad with the reminder that Santa would not come until I was in my bed. I remember looking down the hall as mom and dad closed their bedroom door just before I made a mad dash up the stairs to where my sister’s slept. I looked out the window just in time to see my very first shooting star! I don’t remember what I wished for or what gifts I got for Christmas that year but I remember the moment I saw that shooting star I thought….Christmas just landed?! I remember the butterflies in my stomach and how magical my mom and dad made the night before Christmas. Of course I was excited about opening my gifts but it was more than that and it still is!
It was the crackle of the fire in our big wood burning stove. It was the conspiratorial whispering and sneaking around my parents did in the weeks leading up to the big day. It was the sweet hum of my mother’s alto voice singing Silent Night while baking us cookies and Dad reading the Christmas Story from the Bible on Christmas morning. It was Christmas hayrides at the church and caroling to the shut-ins at the retirement homes. It was carefully hiking across the interstate to go sledding and squealing with excitement as my brother shoved me down a steep hill covered in soft thick snow! It was skating on our frozen pool and dripping honey all over bowls of snow. It was making Christmas presents and cards for each other and mom and dad.
Now we live in South Carolina and there isn’t much use for a wood burning stove or sleds. We have our own families and while we are occasionally sidetracked by what my dad would refer to as an overactive “Wanter”, I still remember that Christmas in Chicago when all the best gifts were free and the warmth of our love for each other put the wood burning stove to shame. A lot has changed in the thirty years since that Christmas but Christmas in my heart will always be that of a little girl watching a shooting star skid across a big blue night sky on a magical Christmas Eve. If I’m near I’ll be with my people. If I am far, I’ll be on the phone with mom and dad while my family is shouting MERRY CHRISTMAS, WE LOVE YOU, WE MISS YOU, and probably some wisecracks.
My “Wanter” came up with a lot of fun gift ideas this year, but if I don’t get anything I’m pretty sure I’ll still have everything I could ever wish for.
Friends! Thank you for a great year! During this season I wish you the gift of belonging wrapped in the warmth of love.