The best one-word description of it that I can give you is tradition. My Christmas Eve is full and overflowing with things that I know I can expect. Most of the day is spent preparing for Christmas dinner. A turkey is thawing, cranberry sauce is cooling on the kitchen counter, sweetly spiced pies are just getting placed in a preheated oven, and bread and vegetables are prepared for stuffing. Much later on a simple meal of sandwiches is set out onto the table.
Within an hour of enjoying light fare the piano is opened and Christmas carols are selected to be played and sung. Everyone has a favorite that, of course, we must never neglect to sing. After all, in keeping this tradition, we remind ourselves of why we gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Our Savior’s birth is so significant because He came to seek and to save the lost. So, singing carols must be honored and cherished.
Christmas Eve, to me, is such a sacred time that I have committed to memory even the finer details that are so invaluable. Things like playing games with family, talking about children, and opening a single gift each. These small aspects really do add to the festive atmosphere and lend their own spirit. But, this year, I lost my Christmas Eve.
It began promising enough. I had my list of things I wanted to be sure to do. I didn’t have to worry about cooking a turkey since one had been cooked in advance and simply needed to be reheated. Although I could have made more of an effort to bake pies, I knew that we had plenty already made in our refrigerator. Stuffing is definitely a nice accent to Christmas dinner but, even there, I didn’t concern myself too much over preparing it and the cranberry sauce is a quick fix.
Then the unexpected happened. We were asked by a friend if we had room in our home for them. They weren’t to be overnight guests but I was certain that we could accommodate their presence quite easily. I was going to prepare, like always, I planned to sing, as usual, and we would open gifts on cue.
This was not to be as I soon realized that my Christmas Eve left our house when our guests walked in the door. They came in need of refuge and respite. They were hungry so we fed them the turkey that had been cooked. They were thirsty so we mixed up cocoa for them to drink. And we offered them our attention and sincere care for their needs. But still I missed my Christmas Eve.
As the evening wore on I struggled to retain the traditions that had always meant so much to me. A book of Christmas carols lay open and silent on the piano. A closet full of entertaining games was closed. And a bundle of gifts were unopened. But a new Christmas Eve entered our home where my old one had left. One that I am happy to have found and humbled to say I almost had no room for. And I know that the one that joined us this evening is the one that Jesus wanted us to have all along.
Have a Blessed Christmas!