Yesterday I had yet another in a series of "Christmas moments" that have made the season surprisingly joyful for me this year. I have no particular problem with Christmas, no painful memories or existential crises, but I do tend to let the materialism and general holiday stress wear me down. Yesterday afternoon I held my sleeping daughter in my arms next to a tiny Christmas tree and drifted off to the sounds of the Salt Lake Children's Choir singing carols. I think the angelic host must have included some children in the chorus when they sang to the shepherds.
Kristina and I had spent the morning with her preschool class on a Bethlehem journey at a local church. Searching for the Christ Child, we followed a magi to Herod's palace and the home of Elizabeth and Zacharias, through a shepherd's field where the sheep huddled against a prairie wind, and to a crowded inn. Finally we presented gifts of wooden stars to the Child as he slept in his mother's arms next to Joseph, who soothed a nervous donkey in the neighboring stall. Cold wind seeped through the stable walls, and Baby Jesus was, after all, just a doll, but the children stood entranced at the manger. I nearly cried as I walked through the nearby marketplace, past child actors asking "Did you find Him?" with a light in their eyes.
Early in the season, I shared another Christmas moment with my teenage son as we attended Rochester High School's annual Madrigal Tea. The choral department transformed the auditorium and took us back through the centuries with flute and jesters and music that settled on my soul like starlight. Music always stirs me, but Christmas music with candles and the warmth of good friends touches my heart with particular poignance.
The following week, we forced our reluctant boys into dress shirts, braved the first real cold of the season and entered the magical world of The Nutcracker. Kristina's eyes lit up when she saw her dance teacher on stage and watched Drosselmeyer's magic. I remembered back fondly to my own ballet years, when dancing in The Nutcracker ushered in the Christmas season for me, and I love that my children allow me to impose my past on their present.
Some of my favorite Christmas moments pass quietly in the evening, with the house dark except for the lights on the tree and in the windows of the village above our fireplace. Brad and I chat about inconsequential happenings of the day and mostly just relax into the best of the Christmas season.
Happily, I find myself this December in the midst of some in depth spiritual study. I discovered some weeks ago that with a little more intense reading, I could finish James Talmage's Jesus the Christ on Christmas Eve. Thus, the Advent has me immersed in the life of the Savior whose birth we celebrate. As I read of His miracles and His teachings, and as I become more aware of His hand in the minutia of my life, my love for the Savior deepens, and my journey to Bethlehem and the gardens of Gethsemane and the resurrection finds color and music like never before.