‘Tis the season. I’ve been up since 3:30 this morning because when the body happens to wake the mind soon follows and no amount of counted sheep or whispered prayer allows the mind to turn off. And so I stole out of bed, hoping not to waken Jim, and began my day. I had three cups of coffee, balanced the bank account, organized the Christmas cards that have journeyed over the miles to my mailbox, and wrote my very abbreviated Christmas letter, all before the hour that I’m usually even mildly conscious.
We hope this is the season for reflection, for hopeful anticipation, for quiet moments spent in contemplation and enjoying the wonders of the season. Too often and for too many years it is, instead, a long list of “things I have to accomplish today.” I have to admit to having felt a bit of panic at times in the past few days as I ticked off all the things I felt like I “had” to do before the big day when the big guy in the big red suit arrives.
Instead, I should have been thinking about the little guy in swaddling clothes and his imminent arrival.
And so tonight, after cleaning up the kitchen and folding the last of the clothes I simply walked out the door in my stocking feet (we can do that down here in the south in December!) and wandered around the neighborhood. The night was still enough for me to be accompanied by the sound of acorns dropping from trees and untold creatures rustling in bushes. Christmas lights twinkled from hedges and hung from trees and balconies. I paused in front of my own house and looked in the windows, amazed at all that I am blessed with.
And then I started singing Christmas carols. Me, a choir of one, on a dark street, shoeless, with tears in my eyes. My solo night time wandering took me over to the Wing Headquarters where I took in the multi-colored lights of the giant base tree and then back down the street to our Command Chaplain’s home where I found, of all things, an inflatable manger, with a path of white lights leading to the baby Jesus. I followed those lights and gazed upon the baby. I have to admit that at first I just wanted to see what an inflatable holy family looked like but in that moment I remembered that although Santa is fun and magical, it’s really about a baby and the hope that he brought to the world.
In this past week I have learned amazing things from my own son. At 24 he is an adult but I still remember holding him, swaddled in blankets, and being full of wonder. Today he celebrated 30 days of sobriety and he once again speaks of hope, just as all children, including the one born in a manger, speak to us of renewal and tremendous potential. Newly born, or in the process of rebirth, it matters not the age of the person. What matters is the message. I’m learning from my son just as many of us seek to learn from His son.
And that is my Christmas moment for 2011. May your Christmas also be filled with hope.