It’s that time of year again. As Bing Crosby used to sing “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Toys in every store…”
I remember Christmas as a kid – the wonder and amazement of Christmas day, and all the anticipation leading up to it. We knew there would be so many presents, and more food than you could possibly eat. It was the only time of the year that we had prawns, so they were pretty special. There would be family everywhere – cousins and aunties and uncles and grand-parents, and because we were in Queensland, we knew it would be HOT. Not just hot like a nice summer day, but so hot that the candles would melt and wilt, the bitumen on the road would stick to your feet and all you wanted to do was not be hot any more.
But then I got older. Christmas kind of lost its lustre as I realized that all those gifts didn’t just magically appear, but that my parents worked hard to make sure it all happened, and then when I had my own kids we continued the tradition of no-sleep-on-Christmas-eve and the hundreds of dollars spent on food and decorations and presents.
I have often thought about all that Christmas was when I was a child, and am incredibly grateful for the Christmases that we had. Now, I wonder if there isn’t something more Christmas can be. In fact, I know there is, but I wonder if you ever wonder what magic can be left in the Christmas celebration.
In our search for the wonder, the magic, the meaning of Christmas, perhaps we can find all that it can be somewhere in the story of Christmas itself. Perhaps it isn’t all lost once we have to pay for it all ourselves. Somewhere, almost lost in the tinsel and trees and decorations and over-eating and gift wrapping and excess that has become “Christmas” is the wonder of a child born in a manger, the magic of new life not only in that child himself, but also given to us, and the meaning of Christmas as a time when the greatest gift of all is given to us.