Christmas is a season of senses. I can’t think of another holiday or time of year that addresses all the senses and ties them to memories of past celebrations. From the glimpses of lights and ornaments on the Christmas tree, to the smell and taste of baking cookies. I love the songs that speak of the joys of the holiday and remind me of the birth of the Savior.
Christmas is a time that is filled with memories. Some are vivid, feeling like they are near to us. Other memories are faded, as if experiencing them from a distance thru frosted glass, with the memories never fully materializing.
When the memories are connected to one of our five senses, they shape who we are and how we see the world. Memories can be incomplete or misleading. Regardless though, the memories are our own, different from the ones our siblings, parents and family members experienced.
When I was growing up, I would spend quiet evenings in the dark living room, looking at the lights on the tree. A simple nativity scene would be wound up, playing “Silent Night.” I would listen to Christmas music on a LP’s, each one dropping until the stack was too tall to play. It all seemed to prepare me for the magical feelings that were evoked at the Christmas Eve service, singing “Silent Night,” and holding a lit candle.
These sights and sounds are the memories that connect me to Christmases past. Yet not all of my memories are so picturesque. There were times when family dynamics created unwelcome tension. Or the Christmases when money was tight, and celebrating the way we hoped was not possible.
Still, I have a mother who did her best to provide joy-filled and wonderful memories at Christmas for my sister and me. Even in the times when gifts were few, the love she shared with us and others was always evident. We always shared homemade goodies with friends and neighbors, regardless of our circumstances. In fact, I remember very few of my presents growing up, save for a red wagon, a special doll, and a pair of ice skates. I have not forgotten the love we all shared.
I have spent my adult life continuing to bring joy and love to others, and hopefully creating loving memories for my family. I could have worried about money and family dynamics, but it would have let the joy of the season slip away. Even when my husband died, I continued to seek the joy of Christmas and holiday traditions.
It is because of my inner trust with God that this kind of joy is possible. This trust allows me to put forth a positive perspective to others. To put aside the worries and stresses of life, and lay them before the Lord. To focus on the non-material things of life.
Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew 6: 25-34 (CEB) speak about such worry:
“Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or
about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes?
Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? And why do you worry
Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with
work, and they don’t spin cloth. If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though
it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you,
you people of weak faith? Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or
‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’
Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things
will be given to you as well. Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow
will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”