As Christmas Eve approaches, it feels like the opening couple of stanzas of the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’:
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap…’
I think I have always loved this poem for the tone that it begins with: so peaceful and idyllic . I get the feeling that the family has been so busy preparing for Christmas, but after a time of rushing around, everyone is exhausted and safely tucked up in their beds waiting for Old St. Nicholas. It puts me in a peaceful mood for Christmas.
This Christmas is unlike any other we have experienced. Due to Covid many of our family traditions have been changed in a time of separation and isolation as we seek to keep others and ourselves healthy. A year ago, who would have imagined this? Yet, I think there is a silver lining to this cloud. Who of us hasn’t given a little more thought to what is really, and I mean really, important in our lives? Or wondered how those who don’t have as much as we have are faring at this time of year? These are the things that are going through my mind at this time of year.
However, these thinkings are not the real gift of COVID. I think that for me the gift of COVID has been a new sense of peace. When I think back to last Christmas, it seemed as if there was one thing or another to attend to, to be a part of. This year, I have been able to focus on the core spirituality of Christmas, which I think is peace. This Christmas, it seems as if I have been able to take the time to catch my breath in life. I think that when we are at peace in ourselves, when we have a base of tranquility, then we can move forward in a new light to deeply consider the important fundamental things in life. Peace seems to cut through the static in life that threatens to drown out the really important.
Isn’t that what tradition is saying to us? Come and gaze at Christmas in the manger and behold for a moment the peace of a new born with his parents, Joseph and Mary. The peace of Christmas. The realist in me knows that a newborn in the family is not a thing of peace and I can’t even imagine a woman giving birth in a manger … but I like to peer into the manger scene and behold the miracle of new life, of new possibilities, new chances. I like to think of the manger as a symbol of the peace that only God can give to all of our human strivings to have more possessions, to be better, to have perfect relationships and to know that it is okay to take a breath and just appreciate ourselves for who we are, as we are.
So, this Christmas, I am just going to thank God for a sense of peace. So, this Christmas, I am just going to thank God for a sense of peace. Like the family tucked up in bed waiting for St. Nick, I am going to relax and wait for God.