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The heart of Christmas (12/19/2010)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Through the gray light of an early, winterís morning, our bedroom wall seemed to be dancing with colored lights, like neon on a city street. As my sleepy eyes focused and adjusted, I entertained the notion that our three children, now married, were little tykes again, stirring with the excitement of Christmas day they could no longer suppress...but that was yesteryearís reality. The penetrating lights from our neighborís vibrant display had moved me to pause and to borrow the magic, if only momentarily.

Christmas comes but once a year. Thatís true. December 25th is a day set aside as a Christian observation of Christís birth, and the love, reconciliation, and peace of spirit that comes with it. Thatís big!

Our Lewiston neighborhood, house by house, gets its sparkling, decorative makeover for the Holidays each year. Pat and I watch it all come to life surrounding our home, which remains its plain, everyday, ho-hum self. We bring out our small-scale, artificial pine for the living room window, two weeks before the 25th. Better late than never!

Our son Mike insisted on a real tree when he still lived at home. The first time that I attempted to pull a fast one with a somewhat realistic, albeit skinny and off-greenish colored Christmas tree, he removed the artificial disaster while I was at work.

Mike went out to my Uncle Hilbertís place and cut down a towering spruce that nearly filled our living room. How could I protest! The house literally came to life with the zesty, frigid scent of a winterís woodlands. It was a grand tree! I used all of my ornaments and collectables, recalling sentimental stories connected to many of them.

In the past couple years, those baubles and keepsakes were left in their cardboard boxes, high on closet shelves. I canít keep from getting sentimental as I bring to mind decorations I had once delighted in placing everywhere around a house fragrant with traditional Holiday cookies baking. Those are merely props, after all.

In an attempt to keep Christmas traditions alive in our family, I go through the motions. I have my package of chocolate stars, which was difficult to track down when I shopped for them. It wouldnít be Christmas for me if I didnít bake the peanut blossoms with the chocolate star on top! I always make oyster stew for Grandpa over Christmas and New Years. The ham bone is gifted to me every year, extending accustomed indulgences with my generous kettle of homemade bean soup, enjoyed by all.

Since the girls in the family have assumed responsibility for the Christmas celebration, and that scrumptious dinner, with all the savory Holiday favorites, I donít do much baking any more. The extra pounds seem to weigh a person down, harder than ever to lose in these less active years.

As time closes in, I still have Christmas cards to make out and the few gifts I shop for to ponder over. The family has been more than satisfied with gift certificates, which suit ďthe impossible to buy for because they already have all they wantĒ grandchildren.

Even though our tree is small and our home is quiet, echoing with lively children and laughing adults of good cheer from Christmasí past, I feel the warmth and abundance of the season through its inner glow. Playing Christmas music CDs doesnít seem quite as touching as a group of carolers sharing the Christmas spirit in song. ďOh come, all yea faithful, joyful and triumphant ...Ē

Regardless of how the circumstances of lives change from year to year, Christ is the one constant, the reason that Christians celebrate this season, recognizing Godís gift of love and mercy to a sad and needy human race. What more could anyone want!

December 25th comes around just once a year...though the spirit of giving and the luster of the seasonís most precious gift dwells within those with kind and loving hearts outreaching.

God bless you all this season.

Janet Burns wishes all her readers a joyous Christmas. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com



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