Christmas is my favorite holiday. Every year as I get ready for Christmas, many vignettes from my ‘childhood Christmas past’ come to mind. Sometimes I can still smell the vanilla, chocolate and cinnamon that wafted through the house as my mom baked cookies and remember the taste of the raw cookie dough I’d sneak when she wasn’t looking. I feel the joy of things we did that were tradition like singing Christmas carols in church, focusing on the birth of Jesus, Christmas shopping and holiday baking, and the excitement of waking up Christmas morning to find Santa had come – even when we no longer believed in him.
I can still feel the anticipation I felt when I decorated the tree with my siblings and mother. My dad would be outside putting up lights on the house and setting up our huge Santa and reindeer display and life- size Nativity in the yard. As this whirlwind of activity went on, Christmas music blared brightly in the background. Some years it snowed as we did these things, and that made it even more fun.
Christmas Eve was special. My brother, sister, and I, along with our dog, King, would hang our stockings on the fireplace mantel. We’d go to bed excited. Santa’s visit that night was greatly anticipated by us all and we’d have trouble going to sleep. Then at 3 AM or 4 AM, one of us would awaken and wake up the other two, and we’d creep downstairs hoping to surprise Santa.
We never caught him or our parents setting the gifts under the tree. Our gifts would be stacked under the tree, and the stockings filled with small wrapped packages and various kinds of candy. We would sit around the tree and guess what was in each package and eat chocolate from our stockings. The house rule was that we had to wait until 6:00 AM before we woke our parents.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could anticipate each day of our lives like that? Have you allowed the wonder of life pass you by because you are caught up in things that keep us from enjoying the here and now? Every day we are given on this earth is a gift.
This holiday season give yourself the gift of counting your blessings. Life is hard, but there are always blessings to focus on. To celebrate the joy of Christmas and honor Jesus’s birth, during the Advent pick out something to be thankful for each day. Think of it as the Lord’s gift to us, and it will help us live in a constant an attitude of thanksgiving during this Christmas season. When we live life as though it is a gift, it will not only have a positive effect on us, but on those around us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.