Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.
– “I’ll be Home for Christmas”
It is finally here, after weeks – perhaps even months – of preparation. Weeks crammed with concerts, parties, shopping, wrapping and decorating. Time well spent baking traditional goodies and writing handwritten cards (no emails or WhatsApp messages, please – if only just at this one time of the year).
The run-up to Christmas is characterized by its own traditions and routines that are faithfully followed, year after year. Still, there is a danger of stretching ourselves too thin as we strive to create “picture perfect” holidays – just as mom or grandma (or dad or grandpa, etc.) once did. Even if it is self-inflicted and assumed with only the best of intentions, that “pressure to perform” can drain the wonder and joy from these holiday highlights.
Today, during the final few hours of that bustling pre-Christmas period, try to slow down and enjoy the moment. As mere mortals, there is only so much we can accomplish. There are worse things in this world than a “to do” list that is only half done.
Please don’t let precious gatherings with family, friends and neighbors pass in a blur as we preoccupy ourselves with tasks and chores.
Take the time to listen to holy songs and timeless stories about the Christmas Miracle and the lessons it teaches to all of us here on Earth.
Beginning this evening, Christian congregations will converge to celebrate the birth of Jesus – symbolizing eternal hope and God’s enduring love for the world. Families, neighbors and friends will gather around their own “hearths,” in whatever form that takes – an auntie’s kitchen, a grandparent’s yard, a favorite restaurant – any place where loved ones gather becoming, immediately and incontrovertibly “home.” Smart phones and tablets will buzz with incoming messages from those who are too far away to come home for Christmas (or at homes too far away for us to travel to).
We will hold in our hearts loving memories of those who are gone from this Earth but are never forgotten, not least at this important time of the year.
Christmas traditions change with the years and over generations. Faces change and families grow. Friends are made and move on. But the enduring spirit of Christmas lives on. Immutable, irrepressible.
We may not have snow or mistletoe, but we’ve got the reef and Christmas beef – and we would not have it any other way.
But in our hearts, we all know Christmas is not about what we do (what we buy, what we bake, what we wrap) but who we are with. The head is not always so wise. Let this be your reminder: Give your presence as presents this Christmas. Look around. Breathe it in. The sights, the sounds, the smells and smiles of the season. That is where Christmas is.
Merry Christmas, from us to you.