T’was The Night Before Christmas

Around this country and around the world of Christianity Christmas is fast upon us. When you are shorter (younger) Christmas takes on the magical presence of presents, elves, and of course the pre-curser to Amazon Prime… Santa. If the lights that adorn shopping malls, casinos, and the homes where people live wasn’t enough, we are constantly reminded of Christmas with the ever present Christmas music.

Christmas music takes on the familiar air of comfort food when the blessed harmonies of yesteryear adorn the spaces in which we shop. From Sinatra to Burl Ives we sing (mainly to ourselves) the words that have become the mantra of the Christmas Season. From snow bells to Christmas trees we swing to the samba of a time that brings back the wonderful memories we hold on to during this very special season.

Sometimes we are blessed to see carolers dressed in period costume placed before us to commune with the melodies that we hold dear to our hearts. Many times over the course of my short life I have been in Christmas plays, played in an orchestra or smaller ensemble, or even sang with a choral group on or before Christmas. The joy that fills the room with the positive and simple messages of “peace on earth” transposed from notes and words on sheet music seem to dance across the audience like sun beams through a church window.

The spirit of this season lies not in the gifts but the gift of being with the people you love and care about. When I was a little boy on Christmas Eve I would stay awake as long as I could before dreaming of Santa coming down our chimney. I was truly blessed that my parents created this amazing safe place for me to enjoy the dreams of a small boy… always surprised that Santa would deliver the correct toys to the right home. I figured cookies and milk was a small price to pay for this kind of joy.

(Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, or simply Santa, is a legendary character originating in Eastern Christian culture who is said to bring children gifts on Christmas Eve of toys and candy or coal or nothing, depending on whether they are “naughty or nice”.)

Looking back at the Christmas I remember and hold dear to my heart… it was Christmas Eve that hit a special nerve. My mom would make a meal of onion soup and shrimp salad with home made thousand island dressing. It was the only time of year we’d enjoy this meal. Then, my mom, dad, and grandmother would sit around the Christmas tree as I played Santa. I loved the giving of presents to my parents and grandmother but always felt bad I had more presents then they did. Of course over half of my presents were underwear and socks, but never was such a mundane gift wrapped and presented so elegantly and appreciated so much as that night before Christmas.

As we get older those memories are etched in our soul as the people that meant so much, in many cases, are gone. However, their smiles, love, and kindness becomes the spirit behind the real meaning of Christmas… to love and be loved in return.