We always hear about Christmas Spirit at this time of the year…but what exactly IS ‘Christmas Spirit?’ Is it in the mall or the boutiques? Is it found at the numerous Christmas programs we will attend? Is it found in the Pastor’s sermon on the Sundays leading up to the BIG DAY? Is it in the faces of the children as they sit on Santa’s lap? Is it outside of the big shopping centers next to the big kettle and the ringing bell? Is it at the table on Christmas day surrounded by your loved ones? Is it around the Christmas tree as everyone is tearing open their packages? Is it in the car as you travel to visit family?
I think you can find it in all these places..but do you? I have found through the years that I don’t always have it. I feel like I should, but, in all honesty, that’s just not the way it is for me. According to tradition, we should all have that special glow, that ‘love the whole world’ mentality, and open pockets ready to share from the moment Christmas is first mentioned. Well, I am here to say…”it ain’t necessarily so.” I get so caught up in all the TO DO lists and the presents, and the cooking and the parties, and the programs, and the services and the needy children and the decorating and the shopping and the visiting and the cards and the…and the…and the…Where did all this come from? And WHY do we do it, and continue to do it year after year? I find myself bemoaning the fact that I just don’t feel like it’s Christmas,,,and I don’t feel like doing all this stuff again, and nobody notices unless I DON’T do it and nobody appreciates just how hard I work to get everything ready. There’s just no way the Christmas Spirit can get through all that.
I wait for it to “hit me”…and thank God, it always does…just when I least expect it. One year it came as I was sharing the Christmas story with a group of preschoolers, and when I got to the part about the manger, a sweet little boy said, “He shouldn’t ‘a ‘ever had to sleep in a barn…it stinks in there…somebody shoulda’ gived Him a bed.” The sweetness and honesty of children…I found it there. One year, I found it as I sat in a huge Christmas program and watched a son, who had been struggling with his own issues and bad choices, cry huge tears, unashamedly, because he was so touched at the message he had heard so many times before. I knew he was going to find his way back…and my heart was filled to overflowing with Christmas Spirit. Last year, I found it in a dear, sweet man, whom I love like a grandfather. I was sitting in church on Sunday evening, and Uncle Allison was sitting in front of me. He had been watching over his wife with Alzheimer’s for many years…waiting on her and caring for her so tenderly. As he sang Christmas carols with his still beautiful tenor voice…face towards heaven and Glory on his face, I thought this must truly be what the angels in heaven sound like. And I found it there.
It will come…it always does. Just as I used to wait expectantly for Santa to arrive, I now wait for that funny feeling in my stomach, that catch in my throat, that swelling in my heart…and I know..I KNOW..I’ve caught the Christmas Spirit once again.