“Oh, holy night, the stars are brightly shining/ It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth/ Long lay the world in sin and error, pining/ Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” — “O Holy Night”
The soft glowing Christmas lights in the dark night as we traveled home from Grandma and Grandpa’s house stirred something within me, and there were no words for this feeling.
Santa had come and gone, bringing us simple things: my first doll with her own blanket for me, a Barbie with an impressive change of clothing and the tiniest of tiny shoes, an Etch-a-Sketch for my sisters, warm pajamas for all of us. There were candies and nuts and oranges to enjoy. Those were simpler times.
The enormous lights on my grandmother’s tree had captivated me, and there was magic in the air as our many cousins gathered on the floor in that tiny living room. There were no high expectations, for we had long been told it was fine to wish, but not to demand.
Santa had more children in the world than we could even imagine, each deserving a little surprise to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a manger, far away and long ago. I have a vague memory of walking to the car as the snow fell on that Christmas night, our grandparents waving to us from their front porch.
Reunited with my new doll baby, having been forced to leave her in the car when we had arrived at our grandparents’ house, I felt the stirring of something inexplicable. This doll baby was all mine, and would forever be. All I had ever held before were my big sisters’ dolls.
I loved everything about this gift, even the scent of it. I was amazed by the bonnet on its head with a knob that let me turn her face from smiling to crying to sleeping. This was surely the best present any child in the whole world had been given.
That feeling stirring in my heart, I now realize, was a deep gratitude that brought me to tears of joy.
We had little, but somehow, we had so much. There was peace in our little family. We knew hard work waited for us when we returned home to the farm on that Christmas night, and we knew each day would bring more. But there was joy in life’s simplicity.
Christmas, with its colorful lights and magical wishes, was set apart from all the rest of the days. Church and Christmas hymns, caroling and gifting to others who had less than we did, all touched a place in a child’s heart that has remained.
May there be peace and magic, comfort and joy in abundance, in your heart and your home. That is my wish for all this Christmas season.
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