Christmas … Where are you?

Nothing says “Christmas” more than screaming kids, crowded malls, angry faces, and my personal favorite … traffic. Ah yes, the joy of Christmas wrapped up in stress, debt, exasperation, and exhaustion.

Oh Christmas … Where are You?

Someone on Facebook asked, “What is your most memorable Christmas?” One from my childhood jumped to mind.

As a band geek from fifth grade, Christmas parades were a big part of the holidays for our family. Back in ancient times, when I was a kid, our town’s Christmas parade was on Thanksgiving night. Year after year, Mom and Dad would rush me to the band room, I’d march in the parade and afterward we would go back to my aunt’s house for dinner with the leftovers from lunch. Such grand memories!

The flute was my instrument of choice, and all I wanted before starting high school was a piccolo. I mean, the cool flute players had piccolos for marching season and I had to have one too. I asked and asked for a piccolo for Christmas, but feared it wouldn’t happen. Finances were tight and instruments were expensive, but a part of me thought maybe, just maybe.

Christmas Eve came and our family attended the annual midnight candlelight service at church, then home to bed. My parents put our “Santa” presents under the tree after we were asleep, so we’d wake up and rush to the tree with all the anticipation a kid feels on Christmas morning. But this Christmas I woke up in the middle of the night. I just couldn’t wait and slipped to the tree for a peek. And there it was … a piccolo! I could have screamed from the excitement.

I took that piccolo into my bedroom, and there, hidden in the dark, I softly blew air through the precious instrument with an unspeakable thrill. I got it! I actually got my piccolo!

I never told my parents what I had done. Never told them I already knew they made my dream come true before we ran to the tree that Christmas morning. If they knew, they never said a word to me. But that piccolo was a great investment. I played it through high school, college, years of church music ministry, and still play it to this day.

Grown now, with a son of my own, I understand the sacrifice my parents made to get that piccolo. Sacrifice isn’t a word we like to use, especially at Christmas. Christmas is a time of extravagance, not sacrifice, right? It may have become more about indulgence, but that’s not where we’ll find Christmas.

Christmas is life, joy, twinkling lights, and laughter topped off with scents of the season. Christmas is the carols we sing only once a year. Christmas is the hugs and love we can physically feel and remember from loved ones who have passed.

But the true meaning? Christmas is Jesus

I’ve struggled the last few years to find joy in the season. We all have, haven’t we. But there is joy—real joy and blessings beyond all we can ask or think in knowing Jesus and his great love for us.

Christmas, where are you?

Christmas is where it’s always been … there in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Jesus … born to be the greatest gift of all. Jesus …  come to be light, life, and joy. Jesus … come to bring salvation.

So, let’s light that Christmas tree. Let’s sing those Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. Let’s fill our homes with memories around those we love—and tell them we love them.

Are you looking for Christmas? Celebrate Jesus. Because Jesus is where we will always find Christmas.

The Christmas Piano

I was malled today. Yes malled, not mauled.

I went to the mall to shop. Well, not so much to shop as to walk around. I went early to beat the Christmas crowds, but it didn’t take long for almost everyone from three counties to join me.

I’m not a shopper by nature, so this was my first trip to the mall during the season. In fact, it’d been awhile since my last visit. It surprised me to see our mall no longer had a Williams-Sonoma. Many stores I remembered were gone.

My leisurely walk turned into a fight to see which kiosk employee would be first to smear lotion on me, curl my hair, or put a hat on me. One guy grabbed my hand and started to buff my nails before I could say no. He didn’t like the fact I had a nail kit of my own, already stocked with a nail buffer.

I took refuge in one of the luxury stores. You know, the three-level stores at the farthest end of a mall. Don’t ask the name, I didn’t look. I can tell you that at one time it was a Nordstrom.

With no crowd in the store, I could linger over items I would never pay that price for—not even at Christmas.

Live Christmas music flowed from a piano on the lower floor. Not canned music pumped through a sound system, but gentle Christmas carols that encouraged me to hum along.

I hummed my way through the petite department, past the section of over embellished, yet elegant, party dresses. While strolling down the center aisle, I came to a dead stop when I realized the piano was not longer playing a carol, but an old chorus we sang at church years ago.

Surprised to hear the old song, I stepped to the railing and peered down to the first floor. An older African American woman sat at the piano with her eyes closed, playing with such an anointing. All I could do was watch and listen.

She looked up, and in the moment our eyes met, we felt it—the bond of two sisters in Christ. We were family.

We smiled at each other. I nodded and waved my hand in thanks to her for sharing her gift.

As I continued on, she transitioned into another old chorus from years ago. A song of His love for you and me. Of giving all He could give-His life.

This precious woman will never know I was desperate for that connection, but God knew. Her smile and anointed playing became Jesus to me.

This Christmas I pose a challenge to you. Don’t be cruel, be kind. Reach out and be Jesus to someone.

That person behind you in line for coffee may look fine, but their smile may hide the fact their life has shattered around them. Be Jesus.

You may never know what one small kindness may mean to someone who is hurting. This Christmas, be His hands. Be His feet. Be Jesus to someone.

wisdom from the doublewide

common sense for life

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