Perhaps it is a little late to be talking about Christmas and the way one feels around and about the blessed event. However being late is one of my many eccentricities and looking back sometimes is clearer.
I have often struggled with some form of understanding of the idea of what Christmas Spirit is. As a child the waiting, the preparation, the carols, the decorations and Santa became the magic of Christmas. Everyone seemed to be in lock step, we all celebrated Christmas, didn’t we? Oh yes we went to church and heard about the stable, the manger, and the birth of Jesus but really the gifts under the tree captured the imagination. When you went back to school (always too early) you talked about the gifts and how you wished Christmas was not another year away.
When my children came along you could share the excitement through their eyes. We seemed to talk more about Jesus than was done when I was young, but Christmas was largely much the same. As the Children grew older and went on their way the familiar question of what was Christmas Spirit and how can I actually experience it came along. It felt like it must be out there but how do you define it and how am I missing it? Christmas came and went much more quietly with much less excitement. It was fun to exchange gifts and visit with family and friends but I felt something was missing.
I know the gift of the Saviour and His divine grace is more than enough to celebrate and be extremely thankful for, but after all this time what was the Christmas spirit? I went through many years feeling something was missing, but oh well, Christmas was pleasant and it was a day that telemarketers were less likely to phone and for that I could be very thankful.
Alastair Simms as Scrooge would always entertain and his reclamation would have me somewhat understanding the joy and meaning of Christmas. The trappings and colours were all around me but the spirit, where was that, what was that?
After joining the church I felt a little closer to the joy of Christmas and each year as the children would present their Christmas offering I would feel touched, tickled and thankful.
Each Sunday as we heard and talked about the Holy Trinity I could feel a little closer to the joy and thankfulness that people who are saved could feel. I felt surely soon, perhaps the next Christmas, I would understand and experience Christmas spirit. The next Christmas would come and I would feel no closer to the spirit of Christmas.
Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, Christmas cake, Christmas carols, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, until Christmas was a blur. That is until two Christmas’s ago, I was struggling with ever returning to church when a friend and member of the church phoned and basically said that it was important to her that I return and I should get my butt back there. I remember the joy I felt when someone says you are important to them. I remember something building inside of me which encompassed joy and thankfulness but brought along a lifted spirit, a new energy and a renewed desire to learn. That Christmas was the beginning of my understanding and feeling the spirit of Christmas.
This year I found myself running around Huntsville buying Christmas gifts for a couple who needed a helping hand. It dawned on me how happy I was to be contributing to other peoples Christmas who were strangers to me. I felt so very thankful to have the blessing to be able to afford to do it. I was so very thankful for all that had been given to me by God that I was positively giddy. I felt like the first few hours after I was saved. What joy!
I believe that Christmas spirit, as hard as it is for me to define, must be individual. It begins with the birth of Jesus and encompasses all that we are thankful for. It may not be as clear or as loud as I thought it would be, but it creeps up and suddenly surrounds you like warm arms (perhaps the arms of God). I always thought I knew the meaning of thankfulness, but suddenly I understand how much I have to be thankful for, and discovering how much giving and loving there is inside me. Christmas spirit I found was not “out there”, but inside each of us.
I thank God for all that I have, for all the opportunity there is to show joy and love, and for me that is Christmas spirit.