Pastor John’s View
It was still dark but I quietly slipped into Harry’s room and gently shook his shoulder. Is it time? Can we get up? My older brother grumpily mumbled, Go back to bed. I would repeat this several times in the dark until the pale, pastel dawn blue began to push out the black of night away and Harry finally said, Yes, it’s time, go get Kathy.
The three of us thundered down the wood stairs, surely Mom & Dad would be awake. A few minutes later they wandered out and with sleepy voices said, Merry Christmas giving us permission to open our stockings while the coffee perked on the stove.
With a first offering of warmed banana bread, baked on Christmas Eve right before the Christmas Eve service, and a glass of milk the three of us drooled over the unopened presents under the tree. Soon piles of torn paper and empty boxes cluttered the floor with our Christmas treasures. The squeals and peals of joy and laughter began to calm, replaced by the smells of Christmas-Day cooking.
Childhood anticipation. I suppose my hopes and wishes for special gifs each year helped to build that anticipation that always began with our annual ritual near the beginning of December taking us to the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks on the Christmas Tree Trek. This ritual included thermos jugs of coffee and hot chocolate (I hadn’t yet graduated to the adult drink; it would stunt my growth, I was told), real donuts covered with chocolate and sprinkles. Some years were dry and windy while others found us hiking through fresh snow in search of the perfect tree. We’d hike a few miles, look at a thousand trees, Harry trying to get mom to say yes to a way-too-tall tree, but finally mom would give her blessing and the nearly-perfect pinion pine would be cut, hauled, loaded, hot chocolate and donuts consumed, and we’d head home. Soon the tree was up and in the living room, decorated and waiting for the presents to magically appear beneath it’s boughs.
The Christmas Tree Trek marked the beginning of Christmas for me. Living in the desert, the trek no longer marks the beginning of the season and a fake tree awaits my hauling it in the few feet from the garage. More perfect in shape maybe, but I miss the aroma of the fresh pinion pine and the sticky sap.
As our families grow and change, so do our traditions and annual practices. How do you mark the beginning of the Christmas season? What are your favorite traditions now? What do you miss? Surely, this will be a unique year as it has been since March.
The Christian Calendar marks the beginning of the Christmas season, the beginning of the Christian year, as the first Sunday in Advent and this year it was November 29. The four Sundays before Christmas lead us in anticipation of Christmas Morning. It may not be a normal year, it may feel very sad for you with loss through the year and absent family yet, Christmas morning is the mark of our hope, the beginning of a new joy for forgiveness and salvation. It is the promise of God fulfilled and realized.
From Isaiah 9: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Hear the call, anticipate his coming, this is our season to rejoice and praise him!
Blessed Merry Christmas! ~ Pastor John