Monday, December 15, 2008

The Healing Nature of Christmas Memories

Christmas is a time for reflection, and I love to look back on childhood memories of this wonderful season. Seeing my mom wrapping packages late in November was both painful and pleasant...pleasant in that I knew Christmas was coming...painful in that I also knew the tantalizing presents were for my cousins! Of course, my misery abated in the following week or two as I watched my mom's frequent shopping trips and noted her secretive entries into the house late at night carrying bags full of who-knew-what treasures. Such bliss! (And I haven't even mentioned the visions of sugar plums, my head.)

My fondest childhood memory of Christmas, however, has nothing to do with brown paper packages tied up with string, raindrops on roses, or warm woolly mittens. My favorite memory is of my mother picking up a snow globe from a low table by the window and sitting me down with her in the window seat to tell me the real story of Christmas, symbolized by a tiny manger scene and magically brought to life by a round ball of glass, a few swirly white flecks of something unknown, and a loving mother's attention. What a warm and wonderful spirit filled my heart that night.

Every one of us wants to feel a warm and wonderful spirit at Christmas time, but most encounter a year or two where the lights seem a little less bright, the carols not quite so merry. Perhaps that year is difficult financially; maybe the family experiences some unusual pressure or even sustains a painful loss. Whatever the reason, in those years when the marvel of it all is a bit harder to glimpse, calling upon favorite childhood memories...especially the spiritual ones...can be the saving grace that uplifts your holiday season. Reflecting upon my own night of wonder, (especially the gift my mother gave me...a gospel story I recognized then as truth and will always hold dear) has reminded me more than once of the peace and joy that can always be found in celebrating the Savior's birth through times of abundance and (especially) adversity. In fact, a friend and I recently agreed that those Christmases where we struggled the hardest have frequently become those we value most. Why? Because peace was found where peace was needed, in remembering the birth of One who brought lasting peace to all of us so many years ago.

My Christmas wish for all of us this season is that we might recapture the humble joys of childhood by embracing anew the sights, sounds, smells and...most important of all...the spirit of Christmas.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).


Natalie said...

Kindred spirits...absolutely!

emily said...


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