Today is Christmas Eve.
In our house, the daylight hours are filled with family, food, wrapping paper, and Christmas logistics (How exactly do you wrap a bench?). I love the anticipation and preparations. I am usually baking something for Christmas day, taking care of last minute wrapping and errands, cleaning house, etc.
Despite the chaos, Christmas Eve is historically my favorite day of the year. The day always seems to go too quickly. It is a whirlwind of preparations and excited energy.
Before I know it, the daylight is drawing to a close, and its time to get ready for the evening’s festivities. Going out for Chinese food is a tradition my husband and I started during our first year of marriage, and it has become our annual Christmas Eve ritual.
The restaurants are always packed, and the meal always takes longer than normal. Although that may sound like a complaint, for us, it is part of the fun. We love eating in a crowded restaurant alongside other families who are participating in their own Christmas Eve traditions.
After the meal, we waddle our full bellies out of the restaurant and off to church. We get there early to snag seats, because it, too, is always crowded. I love seeing the little ones in their glittery, big bowed Christmas dresses and patent leather Mary Janes.
After a few moments of settling in, the pianist plays instrumental Christmas carols and the hustle and bustle of the day melt away. I catch my breath and take in the dimly lit church and the familiar music (Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…). Everything else from the day begins to fade, and my focus calms.
After weeks of Advent, Advent wreaths, and daily Advent devotions, in an attempt to prepare my heart for this very day, somehow amidst the chaos of the season I never feel like I quite get there.
And then, finally, when the flame is passed and my candle is lit, the calm of the room becomes nearly palpable. Every year, it is that moment more than any other, when the true gift that we were given on Christmas becomes real. As my eyes focus on my lit candle, my heart’s anticipation for this moment is realized. And, I soak it in.
The gift of Christmas is here once again. Joy to the World.
Merry Christmas, everyone.