It's the days before Christmas that I find myself mired in a mix of emotions. How can it be another Christmas has come so quickly, how can it be that another year has flown by? But isn't this the mystical beauty of Christmas? It is a sacred marker on our lives, an immutable timetable that inspires us, guides us and lifts our spirits as we rejoice in the season.
What got me thinking about this was reaction to a story I wrote recently about a friend of mine visiting his older brother in a facility for people with Alzheimer's. I'm proud of the story, but more importantly I am proud of my friend. He showed a side that was beyond what many of us had ever seen before; warmth, kindness, caring and the ability to step outside himself and comfort the lives of others.
So I find myself thinking about all this just a week before Christmas, because in essence, isn't this what Christmas is really about? Lifting ourselves above the ordinary, stopping for a season undergirded by faith, love and reaching out, reaching beyond the ordinary day to day of the rest of the year to say that there is something higher, more joyous and more uplifting that links us all.
It is Christmas.
I'm writing this a stone's throw -- my house is just a short walk away -- from Crestline Village in Mountain Brook, AL where I know in just an hour or two shoppers will start scurrying about, working their way down the list of presents for family and friends. The quiet I enjoy while writing is a stark contrast with what goes on outside of my space. And the hustle bustle of real life, especially this sacred time of year. But these people aren't just shoppers, they are people. With struggles, lives and complexities. Who knows what challenges they have had to face over the past year?
Yet, it's almost as if I can feel it. It's Christmas time, the lights are up, plans are in the works, the world is slowing down, college kids are already home, the schools are out and I'm scratching my head once again, too late of course, as to what should I get for my wife this year.
However, as I think about presents I really think about all the presents I've gotten this past year. They’ve come from the experiences I've had writing about others; meeting people brave enough to open their lives up to me and having the privilege to understand them and write about their triumphs and challenges. Never was that more evident than the recent story about my friend.
So, Christmas, here I come. I've been struggling because I've wanted to write a Christmas story. "What's left to say about Christmas?" I've been asking myself. And then it occurred to me: everything. Christmas, like the birth of Jesus whom it celebrates, is born anew as the season recurs and so are we. Merry Christmas to all of you.