Have you ever treasured a memory so deeply in your soul that not only does your mind recall the facts of the moment but your heart also is instantly tied to the memory with intense and poignant feelings?
Such is the memory that I have of a December evening when I was only 6 years old …
I attended kindergarten that morning in the one room schoolhouse that was just around the corner and up the street from the safe haven of my home. I lived in that century old home with my mom and dad, my older sister, a younger brother who loved to tease, a collie named Lassie and a white cat named Tinkerbell.
It was a snowy, wintery day in Western New York and I had spent the after school hours sledding with my older sister and with the “redheads” from across the street. My toes were nearly frostbitten from the time happily spent in the sub-freezing elements. My mother, after taking off all of my snow-caked outer garments at the door, handed me a fresh nightgown that had been warmed in the dryer. She then stood me on top of our old-fashioned register where the heat came blazing up from the basement furnace.
My mom put “The King Family Christmas Album” on our record player so that I would have Christmas music to listen to while I was slowly warmed from the tiny register holes.
I revolved around in a little girl circle while the heat found its way to warm my numb toes, raw fingers and red nose. While facing one direction, I saw the piano sitting in the corner of the oversized room; in another direction, I saw the dining room table bedecked for Christmas in true 1960’s fashion; and in the third direction I looked into my parents’ bedroom and at their huge canopy bed.
The fourth view that completed my slow rotation was out the front windows of my home and at the Post Office across the street. I remember that the snow was gently falling down around the little brown building which was truly no more than a glorified shack of governmental importance. The postmaster, Mr. Hawley, had just the day before strung lights around the roof and windows of the US Post Office located directly across the street from my girlhood home.
My slow circle stopped the moment that I looked across the street at the obscure building.
As the King Family sang of city sidewalks, chestnuts roasting and finally about a Baby Boy, I stopped my circling and just stared, transfixed at the beauty of the brown building surrounded by Christmas lights.
I remember placing my hand on my chest because what I was experiencing in that moment was so wonderful and grand that it made my heart hurt. As I wiped the tears away from my no longer frozen cheeks, my mom walked into the room.
“Why, Carol!” she exclaimed. “Why are you crying? Are you not feeling well?”
I didn’t even realize until that moment that there were tears on my cheeks. I responded, “Mom … it’s all so beautiful. It makes my heart hurt.”
The joy from my heart was leaking out of my eyes and down my innocent cheeks. A little brown shingled building … decorated with Christmas lights … made my heart hurt.
And with repeating those words to you today … I can still feel the glorious pain all over again.
Christmas is so beautiful … so filled with wonder and glory … that it makes my heart hurt to this very day.
When Christmas lights up the ordinariness of my feeble attempt at life, the raw marvel paints a picture of stunning impact. When viewed without the message of the manger, my life is truly just a shack of little significance and certain obscurity.
However, when I dress my life in the majesty of the manger and with the glory of the angel’s song it is then that I become who I was always made to be. When the human hut of my life is changed by the purpose of the manger and by the star that led the way to His dear presence, I realize why my heart aches for something more than this world offers.
Even now … the joy of Christmas is leaking out of my eyes and my wizened heart hurts with the joy of it all.
Has the joy of Christmas changed you? Have you allowed the miracle of the manger to decorate the humdrum of your life? My prayer for you this year is that you will take a moment out of the busyness … and away from the craziness… and observe with no distractions what the glory of Christmas is truly all about.
I hope that you will warm yourself with the joy of His presence. I hope that you will hear the angels’ song and that your heart will constrict in sheer and joyous pain.
I pray that you will have a moment when the joy of Christmas leaks out of your eyes and onto your face.
Your life was always meant to be more than a shack … a hovel … a hut of humanity. Your life was meant to be the showplace of Christmas every day of every year.
Merry Christmas with joy –