A few weeks ago the kids and I were driving home from my mom’s house. It was just after Thanksgiving, and we spotted several houses bedecked in Christmas lights and yard decor. A surge of nostalgia and anticipation welled up within me as we talked about one of my favorite Christmas past times: driving slowly through neighborhoods in search of these Christmas outdoor lights.
Last year, we were in Asheville. We were loving the “cold” weather (by our standards), and despite the lack of snow yet, it felt more Christmassy than the usual Florida 70’s and (heaven forbid!) 80’s we usually experience on this winter holiday. But this year all the sentiment of the season that is so tied to this one place came back to me on that neighborhood road. And I realized how much fun it will be (and has been since) to share these memories and small rituals with my children.
Last year I had so much fun writing a post about different ancient rituals that have contributed to (or been denounced as horrible) the way we celebrate Christmas today in America. You can read it here. This year, I find myself revived by one narrative of Christmas: Emmanuel. Powerful God became a crying baby to walk among us, know our pain, and live the life we cannot apart from him. Sometimes the simple, well-known stories breathe newness into what can be a cynical, complicated life in a way that brings glimpses of forgotten joy and anticipation.
I’m also reminded of another Christmas memory. Years ago, our church’s worship team was led by a talented, big-voiced and big-hearted musician who organized Christmas cantatas. I miss the joy of participating in something beautiful-the harmonizing of voices to create auditory texture and color. If you enjoy Christmas carols, then this clip is for you.