In high school, I never really got the whole Christmas spirit thing. I was happy to have a break from school, and I of course loved the food and decorations and gifts and trees. It was nice to be able to plow through my reading list, and watch terrible-but-also-amazing Hallmark Christmas movies curled up on the couch with some hot chocolate, and know that it was crisp outside the ever-so-slightly frosted window next to me. But I never did buy in to the whole obsessive Christmas spirit thing that seems to overcome everyone come November. I never really knew why, either. I just sort of wasn’t all that into it. I guess it seemed a little kitschy.
But this year was different. I still didn’t get into the whole obsessive part of the Christmas spirit — you know, wearing Christmas sweaters, red and green everything, sparkly things just because, pom poms and snowflakes and ornaments pasted and hung on anything and everything around you, Michael Buble` and Mariah Carey blasting 24/7, etc. — but I did feel the spirit of it. Not the obsessive excitement. The spirit.
I think after a semester of living a more intentional lifestyle that was founded on prayer and ministry, I was finally able to see the beauty in this season that I had previously closed myself off to, without even knowing it. Entering the season of Advent, even through the midst of the hardest finals I’ve ever taken and two different illnesses at the same time, I felt something reborn in my heart. I felt the anticipation of Christ’s birth start to grow in me, and I saw how that began to affect my demeanor and my disposition. I was more at peace. I was happier in a simple, small place within me that I knew touched every thought and action of mine.
This anticipation — this simple, small, quiet happiness — this is the Christmas spirit. This is hope. Hope, the cardinal virtue. Hope, the light that shatters darkness. Hope in the promise of the rebirth of Goodness back into this world. Hope that we will all be able to live in His Love again. Hope that He has come to make things new; to dispel evil and doubt; to shatter the hardness of our hearts and reach into the very depths of our soul and show us we are good. And we are loved.
And on this day of Epiphany, when the wise men finally arrived and met Him in the manger, and the Light was finally revealed to the nations, I think of the little drummer boy. I so hope he was real, watching as these strange men bowed down before this brand new baby, and knew that something was up. I so hope that the little drummer boy was real, and that he knew, when seeing what was happening, that this is the Son of God, and the Light of the World. And I so hope that he was real, and that he picked up his drums, and he played. And the God-Child smiled. And he knew he was loved.
I think this is what we all long for, really, in the spirit of Christmas. We hope for His coming; we hope for light and goodness. We hope for love. My heart dances with joy every time I hear the phrase in “The Little Drummer Boy” that says, “I played my drum for him // I played my best for him // then he smiled at me // me and my drum”, because I think that’s what we’re all trying to do when we prepare for Christmas, and then when we celebrate his birth. We make things nice and pretty, we try to behave better, we try to live more charitably and generously, we try to love each other better, and even if it is for silly cultural reasons now (like to get on the nice list) I like to think that really, it’s because we know that He’s here.
And whenever I sing for Him, whenever I talk to Him, whenever I weep on Him, whenever I dance in His love, He smiles.
Because He is revealed to the nations, to manifest a fierce, everlasting, and resounding hope.
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