A Christmas tune plays on the radio and the words draw me back to another time and place. I can almost taste Mom’s sugar cookies, with crushed peppermint candy sprinkled over the top, fresh from the oven. I can still see the blue color-coordinated decorations and lights twinkling on my aunt’s white tree—I’m sure that’s why blue gives me so much pleasure to this day. And I can recall the joy of trying to guess what might be in a certain package.
For me it happens with “Silent Night” and blue lights and snow. Maybe everyone has a special place they travel back to when the fragrances are just right, when the sounds pull you in, or maybe, all it takes is seeing a child grinning from ear to ear, wishing for Christmas Eve to hurry up and get here, and suddenly, you remember . . .
And for a few moments you get caught away.
Can you see yourself as a child? For those of us with children, it’s easy to remember the times when they were little. But what about you? What makes you reminisce to a time in your youth when life was simple and fun and filled with anticipation over Christmas? When the joy of looking forward to Christmas morning—or Eve—consumed you. Not just about the gifts, although there was that. But, also, to hearing the Christmas story. To reliving the journey of the wisemen and angelic visitation to the shepherds. To the awe of the moment when the lights on the tree were first turned on in the dark. To lying on the floor and staring up at the glowing colors and tree decorations as if you’d never seen them before. Tasting candies you were only allowed to have at Christmastime. Hearing laughter in the house. Family. Presents. Candles. Twinkling stars. Watching. Waiting.
Close your eyes for a moment. Don’t think too hard. Just relax and smell the evergreen scents, hear the soft Christmas melodies playing, the jingling of a bell, packages being shaken and felt. Does a little anticipation race up your spine? When you were a kid, did you lay awake in bed trying to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, but you couldn’t? Did you think . . . Christmas is tomorrow? It’s coming. Somehow, I’ve got to go to sleep so I can wake up and then it will be . . .
Remember? Oh, let yourself feel. Think of the happiness. The laughter. Did you count down the twelve days before Christmas? Maybe, the twelve days before that? Then, before you knew it, tomorrow—the one perfect day of the year when dreams might come true—was almost here. Did you get so happy you felt like dancing? Or maybe you were wishing for a hula hoop to twirl in, and those thoughts were prancing in your mind. Or a doll. Or a new book. Did you hope for a Tonka truck or a new bow and arrow? Could you imagine yourself in buckskins like Davy Crockett?
In our busy adult world, with jobs and bills and responsibilities and stress and pain, sometimes we forget to love Christmas like we did as a kid. To see and smell and touch the beauty and traditions of celebrating Jesus’s birthday. When you closed your eyes a moment ago, what did you see? Did you remember something special?
I recall how one year, I shook a beautiful red-wrapped present, listening for any sound that might give away the contents. Was that briefest of clatters the sound of a miniature washing machine? Oh, I hoped so! I couldn't wait for morning to come so I could find out if my mom had gotten me the thing I longed for—a toy machine to wash all my doll clothes. Can you imagine a seven-year-old wanting that? Ha! After a lifetime of washing clothes, I wonder, what in the world was I thinking? Why would I want such a gift? But I did.
Another year, when I was older, we got a long wooden toboggan as a family gift. We spent days and days sliding down the hills in Ketchikan, Alaska. One time, a bunch of snow fell in the middle of the night, and one of my brothers woke me up, and the three of us and our cousins bundled up and went outside and played in the snow, building all kinds of sculptures—before it could melt away.
Oh, the treasures and memories we have inside of us. Have you thought of your childhood Christmases lately? What smells take you back to those carefree days? Cinnamon rolls? Fudge? Hot chocolate cooking on the stove?
“Silent Night” brings back warm feelings for me, because my mom and I used to sing that song while we washed dishes. It was the first song where I learned to hold the melody while someone else harmonized. Each time I hear the song, I remember her.
Of course, we can’t live in the past. We have the privilege of making new memories this year, and in the coming year. But, every now and then, it’s a blessing to go back and remember the special times we experienced in our youth. These memories are part of our story in the book of our lives.
We’re supposed to become like a child in faith. That brings to mind the verse . . . “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 18:3) To me, that means being free and joy-filled and full of anticipation in what God can do. A child sees the moment and enjoys it. He’s open and full of belief. His joy hasn’t been diminished by disappointment. Nothing holds a child back from expressing happiness over the smallest things. A child who is belly-laughing isn’t a bit concerned over how he looks or sounds or who might care. In that moment, he’s absolutely free. And it’s beautiful. I love hearing a child’s laughter. It’s contagious and makes me laugh too.
We get caught up in too many “serious” things in this life. I know, there are plenty of serious things to consider. But, let’s take a few minutes and remember what it’s like to see Christmas through the eyes of a child. Let’s remember. Starting with Jesus. Loving those around you. Taking it all in. Truly feeling again.
A child really can lead us. In fact, He already did.