As I sit here pondering my obligatory Christmas blog post, I rack my brain in search of magical words and thought-provoking philosophies that might propel me to the heights of world recognition. Ah, to pen a piece of literature destined to be reflected upon for generations to come, isn't that the dream of all writers? But alas, I am a mere storyteller and not of the caliber of Dickens or Hans Christian Anderson...not even worthy to stand in the shadows of Mark Twain. And so, defeated before I even start, I shall put aside those great expectations...and simply reflect upon Christmas's past.
Christmas's, I've seen more than most of you, more than fifty. Surely I have a memory or three that might bring a chuckle or at least a nod of agreement. Throughout the course of life I've been blessed with a wife or two, and even more children beneath my feet, or hovering above my face hours before dawn on Christmas morn, waiting for me to awake with a start as their piercing eyes stirred me to consciousness. More often than not, it was not the stare that startled me, but what seemed to be multitudes of children pouncing on my bed, cheerfully announcing that Santa had not disappointed during the night. As I trudged past the tree each year in search of a coffee pot, the patter of tiny feet following behind would reach my ear. I would shrug off the fleeting notion of glancing toward the tree. The addiction of caffeine beckoned me to postpone Christmas for just a few more minutes. Just as I would sit in my easy chair across from the magical tree with coffee in hand, the wife, whichever one she happened to be that year, would dutifully trudge past the children now gathered close to the tree. We all grew quiet, for we knew not to spoil Christmas by rushing Mom before her first sip of coffee. As she reappeared from the kitchen, the children wiggled and squirmed in anticipation. I fumbled with a camera in preparation for the event about to take place. With a firm warning that no pictures were to be taken of Mom at that time of day, I then directed the lens toward the tree, and with a nod of my head, gave the order to let Christmas begin. Just minutes later, the hustle and bustle of Christmas came to an end, laying beneath shredded wrapping paper and discarded boxes.
For years I lied to my children...lied about Santa. When the truth eventually came at some point in time, I always felt a twinge of guilt for misleading those naive and vulnerable youngsters. But still more children were to come and again I would lie. I went to great lengths to cover up the truth, stealthily creeping through a dark house at midnight on Christmas Eve, my arms laden with presents. I ate cookies and drank milk left for someone other than myself. As children grew older, I trekked through mounds of snow beneath a Christmas moon, struggling to carry a basketball goal or a bicycle, hoping not to injure myself in the process. How would I explain a broken leg the next morning as my child questioned why Santa left their present at the end of the drive?
I recall the Christmas that my youngest knew the truth. We said our 'good nights' late that Christmas Eve and she disappeared into her bedroom. Moments later she reappeared, making her way into the kitchen. I followed her and watched as she poured a glass of milk, then arranged chocolate chip cookies on a plate. Our eyes met as she laid them on the table...and I spoke only one word,
"Baby..." and I shook my head as I felt my heart break.
"I know, Daddy."
I remember how sad I felt as she returned to her room, thinking how sad she must feel...knowing the man who never was would never come again on Christmas Eve.
It was the next Christmas that I would find myself alone. There were no children underfoot, nor a wife to worry about buying a gift for. Perhaps it was desperation, or maybe an attempt to hide from memories of Christmas's past, that I took a different look at Christmas. On a cold Christmas Eve, I pulled into a parking lot, and staring at the building before me through a frosted windshield, decided there was surely more to Christmas. I stepped into an overflowing auditorium and searched for a seat where hundreds had gathered to celebrate. Settling at the back of the room, I gazed around in amazement. Had I been missing this all these years? Moments later I stood with the masses and lifted up my voice and sang,
'Joy to the world, the Lord has come!"
And for an hour I worshipped and praised the birth of Jesus Christ, my heart light and my mind marveling. I cried, near sobbing as the room grew dark then became light again as hundreds of candles illuminated the faces of those around me. And we sang 'Silent Night'...as tears of joy streamed down my face.
No longer would I lie about a man who never was who would never come again. This Christmas and for every Christmas to come, I shall celebrate a Man who always was and who will always be...and who will certainly come again! Politically incorrect? I could care less! Happy Birthday, Jesus! Merry Christmas and may God bless each and every one of you!