The most amazing day of the year to my childlike heart.
Christmas Eve could not come soon enough. The weeks leading up to this moment in the year we’re filled with times of “experiencing the magic” as I would call it.
Red, blue, yellow and green sparkling Christmas lights we’re hung by my grandpa dressed in very clean, gray, thin striped coveralls accompanied by black rubber boots balancing with much assurance on a frosty metal, folding, silver ladder, each light placed with perfection on the 1960s farmhouse.
The colors in the crisp white snow surrounded by gently falling snowflakes, danced as though it were a wonderful piece of living art like the lights in the land of the midnight sun.
The perfectly shovel path led to the front door where all the wonders of Christmas continued behind it as I stepped through it smelling all the wonderful goodness of Christmas as I remembered it.
Grandma cookies with marshmallow topping toasted with coconut, cottage cheese fruit salad, colorful broken glass cake, and traditional kringle among many other mouth watering Christmas aromas blanketed the whole house everywhere my young self moved.
Rounding the corner into the living room of the 1960s farmhouse bungalow, I would enter to the sounds of Jack Benny and Doris Day, Anne Murray, Hienche and John Denver and many other Christmas records playing on the large stereo over the course of the holiday season.
The artificial Blue spruce Christmas tree stood majestically, sparkling with strands of evenly placed vintage multicolored lights. Delicate glass shining teardrops and round colorful decorations carefully collected over the years( some from old Russia) wrapped in silver tinsel and garland, painted a postcard picture of Christmas like I had seen in the $0.05 to dollar store in our local hometown over the years.
The tree was perfectly placed in front of the wooden living room door. The gifts placed under the branches were wrapped in golds, reds, silver and blues tied with shiny ribbons. No name tags would grace the perfectly wrapped presents, only strategically-placed initials by Grandma that not even she could find at times.
Family would slowly trickle in the door after the Christmas Eve candlelight service had ended in our local hometown Church. The excitement in my heart would build with anticipation as the time had come I had waited for all year..
The whole family was home for Christmas.
Although the whole family celebrated all together throughout the year for birthdays and various special occasions, this day stood stoically alone.
No other day would we be all focused on the same thing… for so long… and so intentionally crowd into one common space and still not only like each other.. but easily love on each other.
It was an unspoken sacred exception.
Some found spots on the teal blue 1960s couch, draped with a furry blanket with a picture of a family of deer. Others found a place on the moss green sculpted rug. The corner golden rocker was always reserved for Grandpa as grandma didn’t need a chair as she was running around more often than not making sure everything was taken care of down to the finest details.
The tradition for gift giving for young and old was a process that took well into the night and was a thrill to my young heart as I experienced the warmth and love each gift came with along with the contagious smiles and laughter.
This beautiful time with sometimes continue until 4 a.m. dotted with Christmas snack breaks at the 15 feet of family table that had been beautifully decorated with candles, chocolate, ripple chips, French onion dip and Pepsi, along with the traditional halva… my favorite.
The sights, the sounds, the laughter the joy…
A gift infinitely bigger than all the gifts under the tree, recognized even then in my young child heart.
I cannot imagine having had to have stood outside the living room window in the cold of winter looking in. How sad that would have been not having been able to enjoy this intimate experience in all of its fullness.
It reminds me of my relationship with my God over the years.
For many years I stood on the outside of the” living room” window out in the cold only catching a glimpse of the majestic wonder of the experience I was missing out on.
The Ultimate Gift.
The intimate personal relationship and experience with my God who longed for me to be inside the living room. The beautiful gifts under the tree where my blessings, sitting and waiting for me to come in and open. The abundant Life and all His promises beckoning me from the Christmas family table He so wanted me to have and enjoy. He was longing for this intimate relationship with me. He was always gently inviting me at the front door like the gentleman He is.
How sad as I look back to have some of those gifts left unopened over the years.
Many years later, many Christmases later, having been graced with the title of Grandma many times over, I still look forward with great anticipation to passing on pieces of those early majestic never ending Christmas memories to my children and grandchildren hearts.
But in all of this my heart’s biggest prayer, is that they will find The Ultimate Gift.. the blessings, the Abundant Life.. The Promises.
But most of all..
The gift of Him who came from above so many years ago ina tiny rustic stable, in the town of Bethlehem, and the intimate, personal relationship they are invited to experience inside the “living room” window.. the timeless gift…
The Ultimate Gift.