In The True Christmas Moment

Probably like so many of you, months ago my wife, Susan, and I took a sacred oath to avoid the deadly “Christmas Crunch” (sounds like a candy bar) this year. You know, fighting the frantic shopping crowds at malls and stores and base exchanges; scrunching down behind the steering wheel while beating yourself up for thinking you could outsmart the holiday traffic that just doesn’t care you are running out of time; or missing the Christmas Eve sunset because here you are again, frantically wrapping last-minute gifts to get them under the tree barely in time for the family “Santa” to pass them out.

Well, at least the last few years the Christmas tree issue has been simplified. No more pacing the rows of imported Scotch pines and blue firs looking for that perfect, affordable tree that’s gonna please everyone in the family. Good luck with that!

Nope, just pull the three telescoping sections out of the storage box, assemble, spread out the little hinged “boughs,” plug in the pre-strung lights and … voila!

But there it sat for three or four more days until we could pull the boxes of ornaments and stuff out of the closet beneath the stairs.

“Oh my aching back – there’s got to be a better place to store this stuff!”

So you finally stretch the little traditional angel to the treetop, almost falling off the stepladder and into the tree, but before you can hang the first ornament, the dog starts throwing up and shivering like mad. The vet says you better bring her in, then she has to stay overnight, and after three days back and forth, the tree is still bare but the dog shows signs of recovering.

Oh, and don’t forget the Christmas cards that Susan magically made with a picture of the four of us (we two and Rufus and Lucy, before Lucy got sick) from her iPhone. So now they’ll sit unaddressed and unsent until we can get to them. OK, maybe we can convert them to Happy New Year cards. Valentines?

Oh my gosh, we’re running out of time to mail the packages to the Mainland family. Wait, no worries! Gift cards from online, delivered right to the door by the nice mailman. What a guy! Or gal!

Oh, well, we’ll be able to catch up in the new year …

The new year! We’re going to Africa in mid-January and we don’t even have our flights booked. Better to get to Johannesburg via Delta through Atlanta or through Europe on United or American? How many miles is it gonna take to upgrade? Man, we’re gonna be leaving before we know it.

Hey, gotta take both cars in to get serviced, plus safety inspection for one, and the remote function on the Honda key has quit working – gotta replace the little battery. If it ain’t one thing it’s another.

Whoa! Whoa! Wait a minute here. This isn’t what Christmas is all about. Take a looong, deeep breath, and think about it.

You’re not talking about Christmas here, you’re talkin’ about Xmas, where the X crosses out Christ.

We’re missing the miracle of the virgin birth. The three wise kings following that single star hovering so still over an obscure, little stable in Bethlehem, where shepherds and angels rub shoulder to wing enthralled by the “heavenly hosts” singing their enveloping hallelujahs.

Christmas is the birthday celebration of the Christ Child, the little son of God whose “radiance beams from thy Holy face.” This is the birthday of the “Savior of the World” who changed all of history, yet could continue to change every single heart in that world with simple love, forgiveness and grace, and the promise of everlasting life.

Be here, just be present in this moment.