Nostalgia. One of my favorite feelings. Sometimes pleasant, sometimes hard, but always magical. Always grateful. Always full of memories that move rhythmically to the beating of my heart.
This Christmas season brought nostalgia along for the sleigh ride of thanksgiving. Memories as sharp as day, coming alive in the twinkling of the night. Christmas carols serenading the road of reminiscing, family laughter fueling the present moment. Joy nesting in the bellies of our souls, brought alive again by the power of advent. Anxious anticipation of the arrival of something majestic, something angelic, something transformative, something pure. The hype and busyness add to the build-up, yet the innocence of a child reminds us to be still. Such a wonder, such a mystery, yet such a familiar call back home.
All of this excitement of something greater than ourselves often humbles us to retreat with those we cherish and extend beyond ourselves. It moves us to sit with those we grew up with, and speak with those we may not associate with. Something larger, something stronger, something intricately woven throughout this place we call earth seems to continue its process of knitting. For a moment, we set aside our Christmas list and surrender ourselves in awe. For a breath, we glance up at the star of royal beauty for an answering light beyond our understanding.
Each Christmas is different in its own way. One year older, one year wiser, one year of life’s challenges requiring new adaptation. It’s hard to accept change sometimes, especially during the holidays. It’s hard to let go of old traditions and welcome the new. It’s difficult to surpass any old winter wounds to focus on the redemptive warmth.
But Christmas is also consistent. Traditions hold a spot in our plans as our calendars fill up with festivities. Regardless of how you get there, Christmas always comes to you. Every year on December 25th, we can count on the consistency of Christmas. The presents may not pile up in the same way. You may have new faces around your holiday feast. Your work schedule may not allow for as much down time as you’d like. But we can all count on this day to catch us when we need it. We can look forward to this day just like any other. We can celebrate the gentle spirit that Christmas brings, and even allow ourselves flow with it. We can always count on the coming of Christ.
The older I get, the more I crave the feeling of togetherness. Quality time, to me, is one of greatest gifts of all. I’ve always been aware of just how precious our time here is, and it’s always been troubling to me that I can’t spend as much time with everyone I care about as much as I’d like. Christmas allows for a time of togetherness. Maybe my hunger for quality time stems from a combination of upbringing and personality, growing up surrounded by cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles at every holiday gathering. Maybe it’s the nostalgic feeling tied to family time, or contagious enthusiasm from true friends. Or maybe part of me remembers how lonely it felt to shut others out during a cold snap of depression. A retreat down memory lane to the days of worry-free childhood put those wonder blues to bed. Perhaps it’s a little bit of all of these things that feed my need for togetherness. All of which have one common source: a little baby in a manger.
I bet the crowd at Jesus’ birth felt the same way we do on Christmas. Quieted by something so beautiful, so transforming, so radically renewing. A feeling so calming, so comforting, so oddly reassuring. A place so grounded, so down-to-earth, so transparently vulnerable. A safe space; a worry-free space; a place to belong. Surrounded by people who they traveled the deserts with, and also people who they had never seen before. All together, all connected, all mesmerized by by a force that drew them to that very place. Something majestic, something angelic, something transformative, something pure. Something foreign, yet something familiar; something nostalgic, yet something new.
A presence so remarkable, a moment so indescribable. An invitation so welcoming, a promise so true.
Love incarnate, love divine.
A love so real that continues to shine.
For there on that historic night, sparked a truth that feels just right.
Peace for the moment, hope for the night.
A love that binds us forever tight.