|It was the morning of December 24th. The longest day of the year for an 8 year old boy. Mother was in the kitchen, concocting wonderful food that we would share at dinner time: ham, beans, yams, cookies and pies. Dad was off doing last minute shopping, obviously from a list Mother had provided. All my brothers were out doing their own thing: hanging out with friends or just watching television. And I was stuck with the task of finding a way to make 24 hours pass quickly. It was Christmas Eve! Only one day left!
Usually days at home from school would pass in the blink of an eye. Spending that carefree time in the woods with friends or riding my bike around town made the days just zip by. But not today. I was about to experience the magic of Christmas. Somehow, a room with a decorated tree and a few wrapped gifts would magically be transformed overnight to a “Toys R Us” warehouse! All the new things I had wanted, piles of unnecessary plastic objects, along with a stocking filled with chocolate. And it would all be mine in just a few hours. And as if that wasn’t enough magic, the cookies and milk would magically be eaten too!
After many grueling hours of anticipation, I finally made it to bed time. Mother tucked me in and I laid there, begging for sleep to take me away. And just when I thought I would never fall asleep, I was being awakened by one of my brothers. “Get up, Chris! It’s Christmas morning!”
Sometimes, adulthood can have a way of draining all the magic out of Christmas time. Instead of a season of anticipation and excitement, it can become a season of dread and obligation. But don’t be dismayed, the magic is still there. It just becomes unrecognizable among all the busyness, shopping and wrappings of a commercialized Christmas. Unfortunately, without the magic, Christmas becomes diluted to a bunch of “humbug” as Ebenezer put it.
One way I have learned to keep the magic of Christmas alive is through the memories of Christmas past. I remember those Christmas mornings, and the carnage of opening presents with three older brothers and having wrapping paper piled knee high on the floor. It wasn’t magical because of the stuff. It was magical because I had a family to share Christmas. I remember the times my mother took me with her as we shared our food and gifts with special people in need around us. I saw the magic of Christmas in their eyes as they graciously accepted our gifts. I remember the Christmas Eve when my mother held me in her lap and as we looked at the beautiful colored lights on the Christmas tree, as she softly sang Silent Night in my right ear.There is magic in the memories.
But the real magic of Christmas can only be found in the manger. Through all the wrappings and tinsel of Christmas, we must remember that it’s about a man and a woman looking for a place to stay. It’s about a census and a star and wise men and shepherds. Christmas is about a baby in a stable. And if, through all the busyness of Christmas, we can find that baby, then Christmas will be more than just magical. It is our source of Hope and Peace. This Christmas, follow the star to that barn. You will find a baby there. You will find the magic of Christmas there. “For unto us a Child is born, a Son is given.”