I could hardly believe my eyes. My breath clouded the department store window as I pressed my face against the glass and strained to see the life-sized figures of the display. The dazzling lights, the beautiful colors, the halting movements of automated animals and people; everything seemed so real. The Sunday school teacher spoke of a baby in swaddling clothes and three kings who came to worship. Right before my eyes knelt the kings and the baby was there in the manger. I wondered what it had been like to travel by camel. Would it be like riding the trolley that stopped on the corner near the department store?
I was aroused from the daydream by the gentle tug of my Nana’s hand and slowly walked to the next window. The sight of the big fat guy with the fluffy white hair and beard with toys strewn around the floor connected the dots from the eavesdroppings on the big kid’s whispers about how the toys arrived under the Christmas tree. I was looking at Santa Claus! He was the toy connection.
I was conflicted. The guy in the red suit, the worshiping kings, and the little baby seemed incongruent. By kindergarten, I had examined our chimney from the yard, looked into the flue of the fireplace, and concluded that a person larger than me could hardly enter or exit the chimney. I immediately lost interest in the option of Santa!
But I loved to hear the picturesque Christmas story read aloud from Luke’s gospel. I listened and drifted into reverie trying to connect the dots and relate to the story. I mouthed portions of the passages as they were read aloud night after night at bedtime.
With my imagination engaged, I made the nightly pilgrimage with Mary and Joseph. I was as surprised as the shepherds at the sight of the angelic visitors and wondered how an angel sounded when he spoke. I marveled that two random old people were hanging out at the church the day Mary and Joseph arrived to dedicate Jesus. I thought it was really fantastic that the old people were in touch with what God was doing and hoped I would be cool when I got old.
As I grew older, child-like wonder matured into awe and a deeper understanding of the miracles of Christmas dawned on me. I saw it; the power of the Immaculate Conception, the beauty of the lofty praise of Mary’s Magnificat, and Isaiah’s prophesies about the Messiah (Is. 9:6, The Holy Writ). I continued to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ and I made the connection between baby Jesus and Jesus the Savior and eventually became Christian.
As a mother, I read the same story from Luke to my children. When reading, I would become animated as I read. Their wide eyes reflecting the innocence of wonder, they seemed to hang onto every word. The announcing angels, the donkey ride, the baby in the manger, the angels in the clear night sky, the shepherds worshiping at the manger and the three kings who visited later. I tried to help them connect the dots from the manger to the empty grave and resurrection of Jesus.
Now I often sit and muse. How wonderful it was to learn that Jesus came to the world as a child, lived in a family, and grew to manhood. His parents trained him and he understood his assignment on the earth (Luke 2:49, The Holy Writ). He fulfilled His assignment as Savior of the world. The precious message of the Gospel is shared annually in the Christmas story and in the carols sung.
The wonder of Christmas is shared in the symbolism of the celebration. The festive decorations of the various cultural groups adorn hearth and home around the world. The lights remind us of the bright star that shone over the birthplace and the stars that filled the clear night sky as the angelic host burst on the scene to herald Jesus’ arrival. Evergreens remind us of eternal life that Jesus secured for us in exchange for His spotless life, His death and resurrection (John 3:16, The Holy Writ). Red reminds us that without the shedding of blood, sin is never forgiven (Hebrews 9:22, The Holy Writ). White reminds us of holiness and the spotless life Jesus lived (Isaiah 53:1-12, The Holy Writ).
Christmas is the most wonder filled time of the year. Gifts are given and love is shared. But the true wonder of the holy day remains the awe inspired in the hearts of people who connect the dots surrounding the life of Jesus from the cradle to the empty grave and resurrection; who reminisce about their personal acknowledgment of Jesus’ purpose in the earth to bring eternal life to those who believe in Him.
Celebrate Christmas with all the gusto and fanfare you have. Lift your voices in faith as the carols ring out. Share your love with others in gift giving and enjoying the holy day meals. Share the Christmas story in your best animated reading voice with the children in your family.