As I am currently expecting the birth of our first child, I am experiencing feelings that I haven’t had since I was a little child, waiting for Christmas morning. I have very powerful memories of my childhood Christmases, mostly associated with smells, traditions, music, food, cold weather and, most of all, the anticipation of the presents to be opened on Christmas morning.
In fact, the Christmas “buzz” used to start early in December, when we would start making preparations. Every single tradition, every step in our preparations pointed to Christmas morning, when the presents would be opened. In my memory, that was the focus of everything. The night before Christmas, especially, used to be note-worthy. I used to struggle to go to sleep, as I imagined the fancy new toys and games I would be able to obtain, after having wished for them for so long (usually about 3 months!). I would then get up early on Christmas morning, and wait with the utmost impatience and trepidation, for everyone to be up, especially the parents, who seemed to take delight in sleeping in.
The bizarre thing is that I have virtually no memories of Christmas day once we had opened our presents. I do not remember playing with toys. I can’t even remember more than 2 or 3 presents I received. I don’t have pleasant memories associated with them. In fact, in my memory, the “Christmas buzz” died once the presents were opened.
Why is that?
Since I was a teenager, the magic of Christmas started to fade a little more each year. I’m not sure why, maybe I started taking my blessings more and more for granted. It’s important to note that “Father Christmas” was never a big tradition in our family, and I can’t remember ever believing in him.
Since I’ve returned from my mission to England in 1999 and got married in 2000, it has been a struggle each year to try to revive that Christmas “buzz” which filled me with wonder each year as a child. We tried to get the nice-smelling pine tree, to decorate the home with baubles and tinsel, we even built our own nativity set. We sang Christmas hymns and carols, attended various Christmas-related events, and I can say that each of these elements brought a little bit of the Christmas Spirit in our hearts. We offered each other presents which showed thought and appreciation, but they never had the effect which presents have on children.
I have never been able to feel again that vibrant, eager anticipation of my childhood for a Christmas morning.
Now, as we anticipate the coming of our son, I find myself once again filled with excitement and anticipation, having restless but pleasant nights with vivid, though usually silly, dreams, and brief but delightsome moments of pure joy as I imagine myself holding our son, seeing his first smile, hearing his voice, etc. That feeling is back! But this time, it has a different meaning. In fact, I think it is the true spirit of Christmas, which can be felt at every birth of a child, at any time of the year.
It has nothing to do with pine trees, tinsel, snow, bells, rich foods and father Christmas. It has nothing to do with giving presents, except that the birth of a child is the purest and most priceless gift that a mother could ever give to her husband, or that God could ever give to his children. The gift of a child is exactly what Christmas is really about, and the anticipation I feel now while I wait for the birth of my son is exactly the kind of anticipation I ought to feel each Christmas, as I try to picture myself at the time of the birth of our Saviour, aware of thousands of years of prophecies and the faith of billions of men and women, all focused on the birth of that holy child, and on the eternal and supernal blessings it represents for the whole of mankind.
Christmas will never be the same for me.
It is so much more than giving presents.
It is the joy of expectation that turns into gratitude for fulfilled blessings, and a deep, longing and pleasant memory associated not just with the waiting, but also with the receiving, of the gift.
I will eagerly wait for the gift of the Saviour each year.
I will never forget the gift.
- The Best Christmas Gift Ever (deaconforlife.blogspot.com)