So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others. (John 13:34-35 VOICE)
I can remember car rides into the late hours of the evening after Dad finished up a good day's work, all bundled up and secure in the family car, just exploring the streets of Phoenix for those homes where lights festooned the entryways and adorned the trees. In those days, the "decorating" was pretty traditional, with those big colorful bulbs. Every now and again you came across a home of someone with some creative talent in woodworking who had created cut-outs of various things like nativity scenes and even Santa and his reindeer. These would be lit up in colorful display, sometimes across rooftops while others were nestled in under the sprawling trees of the front yard. The lights and displays were memories I will long carry into my old age, but most important was those hours in the car with Dad and Mom, carols playing softly from the dashboard speakers and us singing along sometimes in perfect pitch and at others, kind of off-key!
There was always Christmas Eve mass. Mom and Dad would make sure I went down for a nap just after supper, then they'd awaken me about eleven o'clock, help me dress in whatever pretty outfit mom had picked for the occasion, and off we'd go. It was all pomp and circumstance, with all manner of incense and flowing robes, altar boys adorned in crisply starched black and white robes. The church would be packed and the anticipation of Christmas morn was palpable for every kid in the place. What made it even more amazingly cool was that I got to open one present when we got home! I'd have scoped out the tree and had made the tough decision about which one would be the package to get that particular honor. Yet, there were always one or two more packages each Christmas morn that weren't there before we made our way to bed to cover up our heads. That made the moments of Christmas morn all that more exciting as a child - knowing Santa still had to visit!
Christmas day was filled with all manner of terrific foodstuffs and lots of sweet delights. Mom and grandma would enjoy their fruitcake and tea. Dad would dunk Christmas cookies in his coffee cup. My favorite were those round white ones all covered in powdered sugar. Mom made them special each year for me - even when I was older and a full-grown woman. She cannot bake any longer and I guess that tradition has been passed on to me now. I don't do justice to them, though - not like she did. She just had a way of making Christmas special. Even that one year we ventured into the fudge making fiasco that yielded about 24 jars of fudge sauce for our ice cream! The stuff never set up, but we laughed and laughed about having all that white, rich goodness for months to come.
We might not appreciate all the love of the season we have experienced until we take time to look back over those years gone by, but as we near this Christmastime, let's just take a moment to pause to consider the love of family, friends, and Christ. Just stoppin!