We’ve all had Christmas seasons we loved and hated, some of you may have recently experienced loss or disappointment. Each weekend in December I’m going to bring the theme of the Jubilee Journey to Christmas: Freedom, reconciliation and restoration through Jesus. I will begin this 5-part series with my Christmas experience before the so-called fall, before I experienced deep loss and even fought with rejecting Christmas all together.
Part 1: Christmas before the fall
I grew up with where Christmas was a Norman Rockwellian experience. The season was filled with the warmth of Christmas decorations, the smell of sweet treats, Christmas parties, hayrides, caroling and the beauty of the darkest nights lit up with tiny twinkling lights. One of my fondest memories was baking Christmas cookies with my mom. My mom was disabled, ill with a type muscular dystrophy. It was quite an effort for my mom to sit in the kitchen and cook with me but she did it anyway. The sweet smells and sweet memories of mom will never leave me.
Another sweet memory was the sounds of Christmas, those lovely songs we call carols. My school chorus and my youth group went caroling throughout December. We caroled through neighborhoods, we caroled nursing homes and most often we caroled at homes of those who couldn’t get out to enjoy the Christmas programs. My mom always made the list. My mother especially enjoyed the singing. She loved everything about Christmas, but Christmas carols was her favorite. Mom loved Silent Night and We Three Kings. I think they reminded her of her own children; when her little babies slept peacefully. She loved her daughters and there was nothing more important to her in this life than her little girls no matter how “little” they became.
I have many favorite carols but the top of this long list is the Carol of the Bells, with or without words, this song can actually bring me to tears. My daughters sang this in their middle school chorus, and I cried right there in the auditorium. My favorite version of the Carol of the Bells is by Trans Siberian Orchestra. I encourage you to check it out so here’s a link the video.
There is one thing that still warms my heart and that is Christmas lights. I loved and still love to see tiny lights twinkling, the glistening ornaments and icicles shimmering in the darkness; a reminder of the light Jesus brings to a dark world. I loved being with my family and friends, the parties, ice skating on cranberry bogs and coming home with a red bottom, sweets, hayrides, Christmas programs, gifts of fruitcake (I actually do love it) and divinity from my grandmother a thousand miles away in Georgia. She made the best sweets.
However, the end of the Christmas season was always a letdown as it marked the end of the giving spirit, the end of the lights bringing light to the dark world. We would have to wait another year for the spirit to shine on us again. Many years later, the spirit of Christmas would come to an end and I would find myself challenged to continue into a future without a spirit of Christmas. I have been haunted by the joy of my childhood Christmases ever since.
But…then there was Jesus.
No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.