Gone are the days when the pitter-patter of little feet sounded much like a stampede of reindeer. Wake up! Wake up! our oldest son shouted as he rushed into our room. "Santa was here!" He yelled, as if his announcement might fall on deaf ears.
Indeed, this commotion marked the beginning of a day filled with presents, family and fun. Thirty years later I can still hear those squeals of excitement, the sound of wrapping paper breaking free from the bondage of tape. I can still see the crumpled paper flying through the air like dandelion fluff on a windy day.
I remember those holidays well. My two boys couldn't wait to put cookies on a plate with a glass of milk resting next to it. They made sure that the tasty treats were waiting right where Santa would find them and they never forgot to remind their furry four legged friend, "These aren't for you."
By the end of Christmas day it seemed as if the smell of turkey had nowhere to go. That delicious aroma hung around the house for a few more days. Yes, there were times when Christmas felt magical.
But, a lot has changed since then. My boys have grown up. The nest is empty. Christmas is quieter. Santa doesn't stop by anymore and my extended family are scattered far and wide.
Over the years I've held onto the hope that one of these Christmas's my siblings and their children would get together once again. It's been a long time since we all enjoyed a harmonious Christmas gathering, a tradition that we use to carry out year after year. But my mom passed away and life has a way of inserting many other unpredictable changes.
However, back then I never really exalted the birth of Christ, not like I do today. Just this past Sunday in church the Pastor reminded us that between Malachi and Matthew there was 400 years where God was silent. "Christmas is the return of God being with us!" He said. Many of us live in His presence everyday yet we don't live present with the Lord."
The presence of God is open to everyone. And yes, our relationship with God is important all year long. We need to be mindful of such an amazing bond. Be ready to embrace both his loud and extreme presence as well as his soft and gentle whispers.
1 Kings 19:12 "And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper."
I'm not sure what changes will take place this Christmas but the story of Jesus never changes.