To say that Christmastime is my favorite time of the year may just be the biggest understatement ever. The giddiness I feel at the first sight of holiday decorations is immeasurable. Even simple wreaths on lampposts make my heart leap with joy.
And then there's the "Holiday Lights on the Lake" at Lakemont Park, Altoona, PA, which we drive through every year on the day after Thanksgiving. This year we piled eleven people in our twelve passenger van for holiday light fun!
Whether it's taking in light displays in people's yards, a glimpse of a Christmas tree through a window, a Christmas stamp on a piece of mail, or Christmas music wafting through the store while I'm shopping ... even if it's just for the briefest of moments amidst the rush of my day ... I'm transported to a place of peace, of love, of joy. Why? Because each is a reminder of the Gift that God gave us. The Light that entered our lives in the form of a baby born, in the humblest of conditions, of innocence and faith.
Some of my favorite holy day reminders don't speak quite as loudly as lights or trees or music. Some don't appear all that Christmas-y at all, by "normal" standards.
Christmas looks like a church altar with baskets for food offerings for families in need.
Christmas looks like people sharing their time and treasures to put together gift boxes for children all over the world who otherwise wouldn't be receiving Christmas gifts.
Christmas looks like people doing kind things for others, not out of some feeling of obligation, but out of the goodness of their hearts.
Christmas looks like an invitation to a meal, to worship, to friendship, to faith.
Christmas looks like my children gathered, listening to the sacred stories; having fun with our Advent calendar, Advent book and ornaments; and anticipating lighting the next candle on our Advent wreath ... and the next, until the Christ candle is finally ablaze on Christmas morning.
Christmas looks not like a jolly man in a red suit, but like a teen mom holding a newborn, holding God, in her arms.