I am a child at Christmas. No matter how old I get, I am still excited by the Christmas lights adorning houses and stores, intricately woven onto boats and stylishly fashioned on business marquees. I stare in wonder and awe at displays of homemade ornaments and family heirlooms, delicate glass balls, wrought metal sculptures, paintings, and nature crafts.
I hum along with familiar songs, belting out the chorus and breaking into dance. I twirl around light poles like Fred Astaire and imagine myself kicking like a Rockette on Broadway. I watch classic Christmas movies and gorge on Hallmark and Lifetime’s sweet romances. I inhale the scent of pine, cinnamon and brown sugar, cocoa and warm apple spices, and I feel the years slip away until I’m a little girl waiting for Santa to arrive.
Christmas, to me, begins at Thanksgiving. It is a reminder of what is truly important, family and friends. Thanksgiving gives us a moment before the hustle and bustle of the rest of the holiday, to stop, thank God for all that he has given us and rejoice in our blessings. It is also a time to reflect on those who are no longer with us.
During the holiday, I find myself thinking of my Granny Berry and my Aunt Martha. These two women were the matriarchs who influenced my life. My dad’s mother, Grandma Anna died when I was six, Aunt Martha became my surrogate grandmother. From our church program on Christmas Eve to our family dinner on Christmas day, they taught me Christmas was more than presents. It was about Christ’s birth, death and the gift of life. It was about our duty to church and family, about community. Christmas was a celebration of love, a wish for peace, and a dream of hope. Some of that is missing from my Christmas this year. I have gotten so caught up in buying gifts and sending cards that I have forgotten to be thankful for God’s greatest gift, his son, Jesus, the reason we celebrate Christmas. I am also thankful for my own sons, my husband and family, my friends, my community, I know that I am blessed to be able to celebrate Christmas and remember the Christmases of my past. I am so thankful for all who have taught me the true meaning of Christmas.
As you swim through the chaos of last-minute shopping, wade through ribbons, wrappings and decorations, stop a minute and look around at the reason you are celebrating. Reach out to a friend or neighbor who doesn’t have family or the blessings you know. Share a little of the love and joy of the holiday with a card, a gift or a just a smile. Let this time of year reflect in how we treat others. That is what Christmas means to me.