My favorite day of the entire year is Christmas Eve.
A day of culmination.
The day when weeks of preparations are complete.
Cards are written and sent,
cookies baked and shared,
ornaments gently lifted out of tissue paper wraps and set about,
presents carefully chosen and lovingly placed under the tree,
adorned with colorful paper, ribbons and bows.
All is made ready.
Like a breathy, long sigh heard above the Christmas carols on the radio.
I am a young child again on Christmas Eve.
My memories are acute and imagination active.
I have lived through many Christmas Eves,
though I won't admit the number.
Lots of my decorations are aging with me but I cherish each one.
My grandchildren's eyes sparkle as bright as the candle's flame.
The magic of pretty dolls whose arms move
I have known some Christmas Eves without my family nearby
and that makes their presence all the dearer to me.
I am made rich by them.
This year, the most amazing thing of all--
my dear mother now lives just a few miles away.
Though weary with the unpacking from this recent move,
she still made the effort of decorating her own Christmas tree, wrapping gifts and joining in our holiday plans.
No matter what our age,
each of us holds some quiet, unshared dreams on this night of nights.
I, too, believe in flying reindeer and listen for sleigh bells.
But then, all too soon, the goodbyes are said, the dishes washed and put away,
and the silence prevails.
Tomorrow will arrive and with it rejoicing, singing, laughter and bustle.
But THIS is my time to pause...sit...remember...pray.
The room is dim, lit only by the tree lights, candles and fireplace.
The carols are hushed and their lovely chords float around me.
I let my mind travel on the familiar sounds and my thoughts and memories blend together, the lines distinguishing old from new now blurred.
Details of Christmas Eves from the past hover around me like old friends.
Some memories cause me to smile, others bring a tear.
I know I have so much to be thankful for and I am. Oh, I am.
Especially this Night of Nights.
The clock chimes midnight and still I sit.
I am complete, not perfect, because of the King of kings born on this very night.
Not born in a palace rich, but a cave used as a stable for animals.
As I ponder this old story, I am there, listening.
I hear the rustle of the cows and sheep as they shift in the hay, their tails swishing.
I hear the soft voice of a young, weary woman singing a lullaby.
I hear the tiny noises that every newborn makes.
My heart swells within me and I find it hard to breathe.
These humble beginnings for so great a God prevents anyone from believing
he or she may be rejected because of poverty or station.
All can believe. All are loved.
Such a Wonder. Such a God. Such a Plan.
Thinking such, I recognize that this night is not so much a culmination
but more of a beginning.
A wondrous beginning.