“It is Christmas in the heart, that puts Christmas in the air.” —W.T. Ellis
Orange and yellow flames casting dancing patterns of light among soft shadows. Pinpoints of color accentuating a decorated tree. Children gazing at presents with anticipation and excitement. The mixture of sights and sounds with comforting warmth provides a perfect setting for Christmas-time reflections in the heart.
Christmas is a season for reflecting and a season that by tradition leans heavily on stimulating fires that are conducive to reflective moments. Whether a roaring camp fire in the wilderness, or a glowing fireplace at home, for reasons likely linked to those who first incorporated ceremonial fires before Christmas became a season, the glow of a mesmerizing fire has for generations been a stimulus for sharing thoughts. Stories reflecting on life’s memories passed from one generation to the next.
I learned a long time ago that the magic of Christmas resides in the heart of a child. I’ve also come to believe that Christmas is for children and the young in heart of all ages. Maybe that’s because Christmas reflections begin at an early age when as a youngster we are given cause to consider whether we have been “naughty or nice.” It took very little reflecting to leave us hoping that St. Nick had been more informed about our nice than about our naughty.
The years add depth and understanding about reflecting on what we can do for others as the Yule season turns from a time of getting to a time of giving. The joy of Christmas past as a child also causes reflection on special memories made with our children.
About 25 or 30 Christmases ago, I watched my son, Lee, as he busily worked at wrapping gifts. In the joy of it all, he stopped his busy pursuit long enough to look at me and say, “Dad, I love Christmas.”
“It is a wonderful time of the year,” I agreed with a smile in my heart and enjoying, through him, the excitement and the anticipation of Christmas.
My daughter, Robin, enjoyed Christmas, too—in her own memorable artistic manner. With presents opened and playtime at hand, she opted to make something from the empty boxes and paper leaving new toys to wait. Who needs new toys when you can recreate Elvis’ Graceland with cardboard and Christmas paper, right? Yep, she really did that.
These days, watching the grands giddy with excitement about the season underscores another generation of Christmas reflection. Children are a gift. They are given to us as a learning tool, typically at a time in life when we think we already know everything. If we learn the lessons intended for us, we realize there are several things we don’t know including the fact that we need to stay busy learning from them because we are granted only a few fleeting Christmases with their childhood. Time goes by much too quickly.
I’ve always thought it convenient that Christmas and the new year are positioned back-to-back. That way our seasonal reflections put us in the frame of mind not only to cherish the happenings of the year just past, but also to set our sights and hearts on the year ahead.
Reflecting on the past year in a moment of solitude and contentment brings to mind those who have made the year special. It’s in this moment of reflection that we try to remember those special people in our hearts and our lives, and to wish for them, the joy and happiness of Christmas.
Enjoy the season in your heart, see the magic through the eyes of a child, preferably by flickering firelight. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
(Photo by the author, Christmas 1982 in Center, Texas. My daughter, Robin Elizabeth Aldridge, making a deal with Santa Claus.)