Christmas—it’s all around us at this time of the year. We see it in the faces of little children, the music we hear, the movies we see, and in the hustle and bustle in the shopping centers of the city.
Nostalgia fills our eyes and ears and hearts until sometimes we have expectations of perfection that can’t be achieved, but we keep trying. We would all like the happy ending of the Hallmark Christmas movies that we enjoy when we finally have time to sit down and rest our weary feet.
However, reality is that perfect endings don’t often happen, at least not often enough to satisfy our hearts and souls. Sometimes our circumstances have changed or someone’s missing, sometimes families don’t get along and friction mars the day, but occasionally we have a glimpse of the happy ending in our lives.
Nostalgia has enveloped me this year. I moved last April from the home where I celebrated Christmas for almost fifty years, where so many memories were created, and I wonder where did it all go? Those precious moments in time, my daughters running to see what Santa Claus brought them, the glow of the fireplace in the evenings, the soft strumming of the guitar as my daughters’ dad sang Scarlet Ribbons to them, and the special smiles that passed between my husband and me. It was only yesterday—where did all the time go?
My new home is rather like a blank canvas, just waiting to be painted on. There have been a few strokes on it this past year, such as eating Blue Bell ice cream in my new home before I moved in, my daughters and I making desserts for my grandson’s wedding reception, and a dinner with all the family crowded around the table. But the fifty years of memories—they are still with me. It’s a different kind of Christmas this year.
I struggle in the dark nights when my mind is bombarded with my past lives. Yes, more than one, two lives gone before they were finished. Christmas seems to call forth promises that life set before us in our youth, the excitement of a journey not yet lived, the pleasures of sharing a life with our love, and the “happy ever after” dream of growing old together. All so very real when we are young and life is blossoming before us. Through the years those precious moments-in-time turn into memories. We delve into life and the future seems so far away when all of a sudden it is over, and it’s not exactly like we dreamed it would be.
So in the middle of the night when sleep becomes impossible and the memories are very real, I flip on the light, make my way to the kitchen, and heat milk for my special drink, hot vanilla milk my mother made for me as a child. I light a candle and curl up in my favorite club chair with my red blanket wrapped around me, sip my drink, and watch the flickering candle.
Years ago a friend talked about how she lights a candle each morning and when she glances at it, she is reminded that the Lord is the Light of the world and He is with her. This comforts me and I don’t feel quite so alone. Maybe this is where we are supposed to go during the season of our Lord Jesus’ birth. Maybe the middle of the night is the only time we are still enough for the Lord to get our attention. Perhaps the wakeful nights are actually the Lord reminding us what Christmas is really about. It’s about Jesus bringing hope into a dark world, a light in the middle of the night.
Will I always struggle? I don’t know, my lost loves are forever with me and I miss them, but the flicker of candlelight in a darkened room makes a difference. I remember that Hope has come. Hope designates a future and so I look forward to what tomorrow brings—new friends, new experiences, and new memories, all made sweeter because of the lessons that yesterday taught me.
So, my friends, when the darkness overwhelms, get up and make hot vanilla milk or hot chocolate, light a candle, and know that someone nearby may be doing the same. Look at the flickering light and be comforted by the presence of Jesus who promises He will never leave us and He will always be with us, and even more—He is preparing a new and perfect ending for us.
Christmas has come and Hope is here …
So light the candle …
Darkness flees in the presence of Light.