There's much to love about the Christmas season. Now before you get your list of “what's not to love” ready, let me say that I don't like the shopping part, refuse to take part in Black Friday and cringe when I hear Christmas songs in the stores right after Halloween.
I love the family traditions built up over 35 years of being married and having a family. The advent wreath on the table where everyone can see it. The “all one piece” Nativity scene that gets pride of place in the center of the mantle. All the children's hand made ornaments that we no longer use but which are still in the box lest we forget they are there.
I love the joy and expectation in the eyes of all the children as they look forward to Christmas Eve and the arrival of St. Nick. Decorating the church, as a congregation, on the first Sunday of Advent. Submerging myself in the glorious music provided by the different musicians and choirs. Finding a new way to tell the Christmas story with the children and young people (this year's telling includes Frankenstein!). Reading the letters to Santa in the local paper. Gathering with others from our congregation to throw a party for those less fortunate children of our community.
But, most of all, I love the 11pm Christmas Eve service. Walking into the church filled with warmth and light, the intimacy of the crowd (there are usually only around 20 -30 of us there), the candles, the music. Getting into a circle to close the service and holding hands with those around me. Even then, the most enchanted time is walking back to the car afterward. Still feeling the glow of the words telling one of the most sacred of stories, bundling up but feeling the cold night air on my face, looking up to the sky (whether it's cloudy or full of stars) and taking a moment to know...without a doubt...that this is a celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world. That moment in time when I feel the mysterious connection with all that happened on that special night during that special season. I rarely feel closer to God than I do in that particular moment. And then my heart sings...“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”