Hurtling Toward the Holidays

Do you ever feel as if you're being propelled toward the holidays instead of leisurely approaching them?  This year, I purposed to pay attention to these days leading up to Christmas, to notice their rhythms and nuances, to appreciate their excitement and sweetness.

Realistically speaking, my gifts are still unwrapped, I haven't yet planned my holiday menus, I never hung the outside garland, my family is arriving in town later today, and my kids' eyes are perpetually glazed over while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads and all that.

I'm hurtling toward the holidays, dashing all the way.  Fa-la-la-la-la.

Yesterday, though, I had a few special Christmas moments.  To preface this, I must first let you know that I'm kind of a sap.  I think that the song "Christmastime is Here" is more melancholy than wistfully childlike.  I think that "Christmas Shoes" is downright depressing.  (Have you ever heard this song?  Gah.)

But sometimes I enjoy the influx of emotion, that swell in the back of my throat and the sting in my eyes.  Such was the case yesterday when I saw this commercial from Eat n' Park.  I haven't seen the commercial in years, but yesterday I caught a glimpse of it from the television mounted in the ceiling of the pizza shop where I was picking up dinner.  I stopped in my tracks to watch the ending.  From my earliest childhood days as a girl growing up in Pittsburgh where Eat 'n Park restaurants abounded, I remember cheering on that little star.

Go, little Christmas star, go.

What got me the most, though, was when I gathered my two younger daughters on my lap yesterday afternoon to read O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" from this amazing Saturday Evening Post Christmas Book that my father used to read to me.

I've kept this slim volume on a bookshelf for years, but yesterday marked the first time I actually opened it with my kids.  As a child, I remember how my heart broke when Della cut her hair only to open the beautiful tortoise shell combs that Jim had bought to adorn those very tresses.  I remember how the broken pieces of my heart lurched within my little chest when Jim revealed that he had sold his watch to pay for the combs, rendering the platinum fob watch chain that Della had purchased with the money earned from her shorn locks useless.

It was the saddest thing I ever had heard.

Even so, I opened to that very story and read it aloud as my girls rested their heads on my shoulders.  They're too young to grasp its underlying sorrow and beauty, too young to understand why I wiped my eyes, too young to process its perfect infusion of words like imputation and mendicancy and meretricious.

I cried sad, happy tears at the reckless extravagance of it all: the giving of your very best, regardless of its cost, to bless the one you love the most.

And for the moment, I wasn't hurtling toward Christmas at all.  I was remembering Emmanuel: literally, God with us.  How God gave His very best, regardless of its cost, to bless the ones He loves the most.

And God so loved the world that he gave his only and only Son, that whoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17

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