Christmas flew by like mad this year.
A red and green blur. I know it happened. I was there. And with trails of glitter and packages of hot chocolate scattered everywhere, I even have proof. I just thought it would last a little longer.
Not sure what made the difference.
It could have been the hedgehog.
New additions to the family always make the nights and days run together. This hedgehog, an early Christmas gift, is no exception. After a month of heat lamps and meal worms and animal psychology, we have learned why hedgehogs are considered “Advanced Pets.”
But, she is worth it.
Creation is magnificent, far away and up close. I love her quills and the way she rolls herself into a safe little ball. This creature lives to please no man. Or woman. She is not a best friend, but more of a mirror. And a test. But more on that another day.
Caring for the new hedgehog added one more thing to a long list this season. And add to that, the scared and hungry kitty cat that followed us home after a late night bike ride.
She chose us. What could we do.
So now we have three pets when only weeks ago, we had one. A trifecta of fur and comfort and delight. And all of it running around the base of our Christmas tree.
It’s been busy, to say the least. And some things I don’t mind letting go.
I didn’t wrap the gifts in the kids’ stockings this year.
I didn’t cook a big Christmas dinner. We got takeout. Please. Don’t judge me.
My breakfast casserole was a runny bust.
My monkey bread was burned.
I just can’t do it all. And you know what? My family is still blessed, and we made wonderful memories. I think one of them even said it was their happiest Christmas yet. And I’m sure it was the cat’s best Christmas ever. She spent the whole day with her head in a food bag. I didn’t have the heart to tell her no. It was Christmas, after all.
But there is one thing I don’t want to leave behind.
On Christmas Eve, when my kids were much younger, we used to have a birthday party for Jesus. Kids love a birthday party. They get it. It’s a great way to explain the exchange that Jesus provides.
Wait a minute. You mean it’s His birthday party, but I get presents?
Yes. That’s the way He is. Pretty cool, huh?
And then they get to blow out candles and eat cake.
At some point, they usually ask, “but, what can I give Him?” And we talk about all the things we can give. What it looks like to give a whole life. He gave His for ours, now we give Him back everything we can. And it looks like love.
The love of God is not that complicated if we will let it be simple.
The birthday cake is the culmination of our party. And with my kids getting older and all of us more health conscious, I’m not even sure we will do it this year. But the cake itself is not the end game, the candles are.
I don’t know on what wonderful website I found this idea years ago, or I would link it here. I was searching the internet, “How to make Christmas more meaningful for kids.”
After wading through pages of Bethlehem dot-to-dots and Baby Jesus coloring sheets, I found this beautiful idea, as simple as a birthday cake.
Here’s how it goes.
Make Christmas More Meaningful:
A Light Celebration at Home.
On Christmas Eve, after dark and after supper, I call the kids to the table. And in the middle of the table, I line up tons of candles. I have a menorah I use, and a candle nativity that my grandmother gave me. And a birthday cake covered in candles. Although this year, I think I’ll use my mini Christmas village instead of the cake. Five tiny houses, each with a little light inside. It doesn’t really matter what you use, just pull together every candle you can find.
I turn off all the lights and grab the matches or lighter, whatever I have.
It’s pitch dark in the room, and I talk to the kids about darkness. How some people only know darkness. How darkness is heavy, and it feeds our fears, and it makes us feel alone. It keeps us from seeing all the blessings: it hides the good things that are all around us. And it either makes us defensive, or it makes us sleepy and unaware.
But. When light comes in, it changes everything. It changes the way we feel. It changes what we are able to see. It changes the way we are able to move in our space.
And I light the first candle.
I tell them the story of Christ, the Light of the World. And at every key point, I light another candle.
I explain to them that it’s not really his birthday in December, that he was born in September sometime during the Feast of Tabernacles. When Christ said “I come to dwell among you,” the word he used for dwell was literally “tabernacle.” I want to reinforce to them the idea of the festivals and the reveal of the centuries in this one man.
And, interestingly, with his birthday during Tabernacles, that would put His conception during Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. And I share with them that we are either in Hanukkah every year during Christmas or very close, and that the Light of the World came into the world during the Festival of Lights.
God put Jesus inside of Mary during or near the Festival of Lights. Mary pondered these things in her heart.
And I light a candle.
I keep telling them the story, how Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem, how they stayed in a stable, how the wise men followed the star, and the shepherds heeded their bright angel. And for every twist and turn, I light a candle.
As I talk to them, the room becomes brighter and brighter and brighter.
And when the last candle is lit, we look at them all for a few minutes. The dark room is cozy now, and the nativity spins as the heat from the candles moves the figures through their paces. We listen to a couple of songs. I think this year we will use this one by Lauren Daigle and this song by Kari Jobe.
This last thing, our inheritance, our commission. That as He is the Light of the World, He also calls us to carry light. That we, too, are this bright Light of love.
They love to hear the story, they listen still, and they are big now. And I am overcome by the light, flickering on their faces.
And here we are in January. And Christmas flew by this year. And I still haven’t done it.
Today’s the day. It’s never too late, or too early, to revisit this story. Never too late to ponder these things in your heart and to soak in love that lights up the dark.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Gen1:3
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jn8:12
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Mt5:14-16
But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. Lk2:19