“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”…
The song from which this line comes (and I’m sure you’re singing it with me in your head now…) isn’t even one of my favorite Christmas songs; but this particular line resonates with me because I think it states a truth. For me, Christmas IS the most wonderful time of the year. And as I have pondered that conclusion, I’ve found myself trying to pinpoint exactly what it is about Christmastime that makes it so wonderful.
I’m sure there are many sentiments that could be cited as to why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but I’ve come up with three reasons in particular why my heart is especially filled with joy and wonder at Christmastime.
I hope it’s okay for me to admit on a blog called “Eternal Outlook” that I like shopping…. (Ha!) I’m definitely not the stereotypical shop-a-holic woman. But I do like shopping, especially at Christmastime. And here’s why…. One of the best feelings—something that just makes my heart feel happy and light—is walking into a shopping mall at Christmastime. It’s like a whole different atmosphere than at any other time of the year. You walk in, and the first thing you see is the biggest, most stunning Christmas tree ever, standing with an inviting warmth right there in the middle of the mall. Storefronts are brightly lit and beautifully decorated with festive displays of their own. Hanging from the ceilings are strings of elegant lights and garland. And like another Christmas song lyric so aptly states, “In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.”
Of course, it takes more than “the feeling of Christmas” to make the shopping trip wonderful. It also takes “cash in hand,” right?! Because the fact is, Christmas shopping isn’t much fun (in fact, it’s downright stressful) if either 1) you have no money to spend or 2) you have no money to spend but you’re doing it anyway.
Fortunately, Travis and I have the sense not to do that, but rather to save for Christmas expenditures all year round. When we save carefully and spend wisely, we can give more generously; and that is what enables me to be able to consider Christmas shopping one of the most wonderful things about this time of year.
The second thing about Christmas that, for me, makes it the most wonderful time of the year are the traditions surrounding it. Something I’ve become convinced of as I’ve grown up and become a mom is that traditions are one of the strands that hold a closely-knit family together. You know, there are certain things about our childhoods that we remember more specifically and more fondly; and I think traditions are one of those things. When my kids grow up some day, I think our Christmas traditions will be one of their fondest memories—and maybe even one of the things that will keep them coming home for Christmas.
So with that realization in mind, it became important to me a few years ago that our family establish some special Christmas traditions. One tradition that is very dear to my heart and which I believe is beginning to be dear to my children’s hearts as well is that when we decorate the tree each year, we reminisce about what each ornament represents. Any time we go on a vacation or have something special happen to us as a family, we buy a Christmas tree ornament as a souvenir. Two of my favorite ornaments are the Mickey and Minnie Mouse bride and groom ornament we got on our honeymoon in Orlando and the “Home for Christmas” ornament our church gave us in memory of the baby we lost to miscarriage 4+ years ago. The kids’ favorite ornaments are, of course, the ones that represent them.
The other Christmas tradition we have established is simply the when and how of our family Christmas celebration. Since we always travel to family for about a week over the actual holiday, we decided a few years ago to begin celebrating our family Christmas the weekend prior to our Christmas travels. We spend the whole day together, making a special brunch, then getting dressed up and gathering around the tree for the reading of the story of Jesus’ birth and the opening of gifts. We spend the afternoon playing with new toys and relaxing in one another’s company and then enjoy a nice meal out and a drive through town to look at Christmas lights on the way home.
For sure, traditions such as these—simply because they are ours—are another thing that, for me, makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year.
THE CHRISTMAS STORY…
But of course, no matter how good Christmas shopping and elegant oversized decorations and family traditions make us feel, none of it means anything without the one element of Christmas which brings the Utmost Wonder and the Ultimate Joy. God sent His Son to be born and to die so that we might live. If it weren’t for Jesus—His birth, His life, and His death—there would be nothing to celebrate. There could be no true joy. That God sent His blameless one and only Son to bear the punishment for our sins is the wonder of all wonders. And any time of year which causes us to remember that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world? THAT is the most wonderful time of the year.