FIRST PERSON: How to hold tight to Christmas
by HEATHER ISEMINGER
Special to Florida Baptist Witness

Article Date: Dec 25, 2013

ISEMINGER
A letter to my Princess and my Court Jester because Christmas is not just another day…

Dearest Children,

Christmas pulls you in, all wide-eyed and giddy with its lights and colors and sounds. Red bows taunt tiny fingers. You ache to shake boxes under the tree, wanting to guess the hidden gifts inside. Images of a North Pole dance like snow flurries in your eyes.

And in your soul? A vision of a manger, glowing all warm and bright with a tiny babe wrapped against the night air. So much, this time of year. So much to capture in words. So much I want you both to know about Christmas. What it means. What it is.

As you grow out of your childhood whimsy and one day step into adulthood nostalgia, I want you to know Christmas. Life will be busy. It will be hectic. You will turn around and wonder what this whole big world is really all about. And this season of magic may only seem like something you just want to get through instead of something you want to hold tight to.

Listen, my sweet ones. Come near. I have a secret to whisper.

I want you to hold tight to Christmas. Grasp it close to your chest. Cling to its wonder. Because you can.  You must. And it’s easier than you believe it to be.

Drink hot chocolate with marshmallows all warm and gooey. Eat sugar cookies with sprinkles red and green fresh from the oven. Watch the Polar Express and a hundred other Christmas movies that make you smile. Because joy is the heart of Christmas.

Believe in Santa. He is the symbol of giving and Christ is the gift mankind desperately needs to unwrap. St. Nicholas was a man who understood the Gift. He knew what it means to be wrapped up in the presence of a newborn king. And so he gave.

Listen to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and wonder how he got his red nose. And then listen to “O Holy Night” and wonder at the stillness and stirring in your soul.

Clap your hands with abandon as you help put up the tree, all garlanded and dressed in light. And know you are grafted into the family tree of the Christ-child. Deeply rooted in Him.

Light the candles, letting their fire dance in your eyes. Know their white-bright flicker cannot be contained by darkness. Know it’s the babe we celebrate who is the Light of the world. And sometimes it’s the flame in our soul that burns Christmas bright for the lost to see.

Breathe deeply the smells of gingerbread and cinnamon and evergreen. Then imagine the first breath of a Savior in a manger surrounded by humble barn creatures. Where Love was willing to come to be close to you.

Marvel at the twinkling lights–their soft glow. Imagine the face of a breathless young mother lit with pure joy. Imagine the exhausted brow giving way to the smile of a mother with her newborn babe. And then imagine what Mary must have thought, looking into the very face of God.

Hang your stockings, with the red-threaded letters of your name and think of the dusty, sandaled feet of shepherds. Lowly men, covered with the dust of the ground. These first men, smelling like earth, invited to meet this Jesus.

This Immanuel. This God with Us.

And if one day Christmas traditions are different than they are now, and you’re wandering lost, desperate to grab hold of roots, think on that first night in the manger. That first silent night. A night filled with strangers. Traditions didn’t make that first Christmas. A baby did.

A baby born amongst the animals because there was no room for a Savior in the inn. Some Christmas days you may find yourself alone in the busy. Wanting to hold tight to the season as it seems to slip through your grasp. Know the babe always has room for you. If you are looking, you will find Him.

And when you are looking you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes everywhere. Because He is Christmas. Wise men still seek Him, my loves. The wise men that left what they knew to search out the mystery. They whisper from the ancient days that we must look for the Christ-child.

Reminding us if we wish to hold tight to Christmas, we must find Him there.

Merry Christmas, sweet children. Mommy loves you.

Heather Iseminger is a member of First Baptist Church in Eustis and a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She enjoys leading Bible studies in her home and community. Iseminger also teaches high school. She and her husband, Mike, have two children, Ella and Caleb. She blogs at www.PetalsofJoy.org

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