O Holy Light

My friends and family often suggest topics for my column.  When I can’t think of anything to write about, I depend on their suggestions, which are always good.

Several friends, my wife, and especially my youngest daughter from New York shared some ideas this week that led to this column.  Not to mention a little pre-Christmas panic on my part.

The realization that I had ordered and bought zero presents for Christmas was a whack on the head when I looked at the calendar and saw so few days left before December 25.  Our tree was not yet up and our house was not yet decorated.  Since we cherish family traditions at Christmas, and since I want my newspaper columns at Christmas to be special, I was alarmed.

You can imagine the column suggestions of my family and friends.  What is the true meaning of Christmas?  Are gifts and decorations really what Christmas is all about?  How do little children experience Christmas?  What is the Reason for the Season?  Where does Christmas joy really come from?  Over the years, does Christmas lose its excitement?  Etc.

My youngest daughter texted me that seeing the Christmas lights and decorations in New York with their two year old (she is almost two) was delightful!  Through the eyes of Little Bit, they could experience the breath-taking wonderment of their child’s second Christmas.  The excitement the lights and decorations brought her were beyond words.  Lights and decorations, so basic and so amazing!

My wife and I saw this wonderment through the eyes of our children, too, from an early age on.

When our oldest child was born, we had just come out of Graduate School and we were flat broke.  We had acquired just enough ornaments to decorate only one side of the large fir tree (yes, I was dumb to buy such a large tree), and we had but one string of colored lights.  We turned the decorated and lighted side of the tree to face us in the living room, so that people walking past the window of our apartment saw a bare tree.

I remember gently placing three weeks’ old Meg just under the decorated and lighted branches of the tree.  She opened her eyes and saw the flashing colored Christmas lights and the brightly colored ornaments, also reflecting the lights, and her face glowed like a Christmas angel.
We didn’t have money for Christmas gifts that year.  No matter!  God had had given us two of the greatest gifts you could ask for, — a baby girl and the Christ Child, our daughter and our Savior, the Savior of the World!

Our baby was too young to understand gifts (she got none from us) but she felt the joy the colored lights and ornaments brought her, no doubt God’s way of enabling her to feel the real joy of Christmas, which she would gradually come to comprehend as each year of her life unfolded.

After all, the Christmas Truth began with light.  The Bethlehem Star, a sky full of angels, and Jesus, the Holy Light in the darkness of a fallen world.  And remember, it was the Christ Child who received gifts.

Ray Spitzenberger is a retired WCjC teacher, a retired LCMS pastor, and author of three books, It Must Be the Nodles, Open Prairies, and Tanka Schoen.

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