I saw an Instagram post this past week made by a residential program for women who are trying to piece their lives back together after varying circumstances. The picture in the post showed a small child holding a Christmas ornament, the young son of one of the women. The child was entranced with the sparkly red ball in his hands.
The post went on to say how one of the families in the program put up their very first Christmas tree this year. One night, the six-year-old daughter woke up her mom in the wee hours of the morning asking to see the magic in the Christmas lights. So they sat, the post said, in the middle of the night, in the quiet of their small living room, watching the lights on the Christmas tree.
Magical. The sight of dancing holiday lights is truly magical.
The post got me thinking about all the wonders of the season, all the joy in the preparation during Advent. But so easily, we get caught up in the chaos created by our own to-do lists that the magic is sometimes lost.
It takes a child – one with fresh eyes and a full heart – to see the wonders that come in all the joy that surrounds the Christ child’s birth.
A few years ago, when my oldest son was three years old, we purchased the Fisher Price nativity set. To my astonishment, we still have all the pieces, and our youngest son is now approaching his third birthday. Every year during Advent, the stable and pieces are available for play on the hearth of the fireplace.
And every year since the purchase, I have watched small toddler hands and now little boy hands, hold the baby Jesus, place the angel atop the stable, line up the wise men, and pet the plastic animals that stand guard in sheer reverence. They place Mary and Joseph right next to the baby, and they remark in the most simplest of words about the holy family.
The boys reenact the story in Luke 2 without reciting exact words. It has been etched in their hearts – the story that truly matters this time of the year. The story of humble beginnings, the story that calls for celebration, the story of our redemption.
In this small way they are keeping the magic of the Christmas story alive. And they are reminding me that for this we are preparing. Not for endless meals, more gifts, and nightly parties. We are sitting still, watching the story unfold, and preparing our hearts.
As our boys are getting older, they also sit still a tiny bit longer and listen with a tad more intent as we light our Advent wreath every night. Since the smallest still wanders the room while we engage in this activity, our nightly devotional this year is pretty short. But after the candles are lit, “Our King and Savior draweth nigh, O come let us adore Thee,” they hear the stories of creation, of the garden, of the prophets, and soon of the holy family and the holy birth.
While I think the boys mostly want the candy hidden in the day’s small box, this time has become so precious to me and a chance each year to stop and listen to how it all evolved and to how He came to be.
When the Christ candle is eventually lit, and the birthday cake is ready, and our voices lift in song to Jesus, we will once again be entranced by the wonder, by the candle’s glow, by the utter joy of the reason for this season.
May this be kept in your heart each and every day as Advent continues.
Treasure the joy and consider the wonder.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord…And [the shepherds] went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”
Luke 2:11, 16-20