White stacks of steam rise up from the waters that stretch out from below us. Perched atop the bluff I stand watching the massive body of water sink into it’s wintery state. Candles on the table twinkle in the dim light of the early sunset. At the flip of a switch our tree comes to life, illuminating the dark corner and sending the sparkly glitter on the glass ornaments into a frenzy of show. Even the jingle bells and sprigs of holly gleam with gladness.
And in my house their small faces light up. Christmas is meant to sparkle.
Splendor and spoil surrounds us, and I am glad for it. Saying so may make me a bad person, but I believe Christmas was always suppose to be a big deal. He lead the way, after all, with a shining star. The gifts, after all, were lavish. Angels filled the sky with song, and the hearts of all who saw Him were overwhelmed with joy. The Prince of Peace had come!
His mother was probably a young, poor girl and His father a simple carpenter, struggling to get by. They didn’t have a lot; they weren’t expected to sparkle. But He was. As God sent down His beloved Son that night, He created a new family while healing another. He took this broken world–His children who had run so far from Him–and He made for them a way back.
Under our own tree, there is a small collection of gifts. Extravagant they are not, but they are packaged in loveliness, some even in homemade wrapping, celebrating the creativity of the giver. A nod, I like to think, to the humble, spectacular delivery of the ultimate Gift on that first Christmas. Simple things though they may be, each one was carefully selected to show love and thoughtfulness. Each one weighed and considered and sought out so that when the anticipation of the promised gift finally arrives, delight and love fill their hearts.
The miracle of Christmas is about celebration. It is about the songs we sing and the cards that come in the mailbox. It’s the joy of Dad’s brioche French toast on Christmas morning and blowing out all the candles on Christmas Eve. It’s the miracle of fresh snow on the ground.
When the star hung overhead, it’s brilliance filled the sky. Twinkling in the darkness, giving hope. Being Light. An entire universe in celebration. Christmas was always meant to sparkle.
And so as we gather around our tree admiring the pretty decorations and special presents, I don’t feel guilt or excess. Christ does not get lost in the celebration. In the fashion of our generous Father, we give. We receive. We wrap things in beauty and sing of His glory, just as He did so many years ago. Because in marveling at His goodness, and in modeling it ourselves, a light fills our hearts. Warmth radiates from the joy in our spirits, and we step closer to becoming the family He desires.
Standing in last rays, we watch the beauty slip into a deep slumber across the frigid lake. The final dusting of color fading into the heavens, stars glowing above. Around me twinkly lights hang and the tree fills the corner with glee.
“Look,” I whisper to them. “Look at what God has done.”