Rarely has every moment of any Christmas season worked out precisely as I had hoped and never have we made it from Thanksgiving to New Year’s without a moment of sadness, frustration or disappointment.
But every holiday season I can remember has had its own special moment of joy and unique impression on my heart. I’m confident it will happen again this year, and I look forward with anticipation of what that particular experience will be.
Preparing for our family Christmas gatherings and doing all the seasonal things we do this time of year helps me remember to appreciate those we love and not take them for granted. You never really know how long we have with each person.
And while those first holidays without a loved one are definitely difficult, God always seems to provide a glimpse of hope and extra special warmth through others and in ways we could never have guessed.
The first Christmas after my bonus mom died, I traveled with her family to Germany and Austria during the Christmas season.
‘Perfect and peaceful’
Our broken hearts were held together in the midst of fairy tale-style Christmas markets, an unexpected tea time at the home where “The Sound of Music” was filmed and a magical Christmas Eve.
More than a decade later, we still talk about that Christmas Eve night — walking down the quiet and lonely cobblestone street with hundreds of twinkling lights almost within reach above our heads as the church bells echoed across the sleepy little town.
We attended a late-night Christmas Eve service, only understanding part of what was said but grasping every aspect of what was happening through our hearts united in Christ.
As we walked home after the service, the perfect amount of tiny snowflakes began to fall, and we stood in the moonlight mesmerized, not wanting the moment to end.
It truly felt like we had walked out the front door of the church and straight into a snow globe — for those few minutes that evening, every part of life was perfect and peaceful.
Where did all the people from the church go? How did we — mere guests in this beautiful town — find ourselves in this storied, movie-set moment all alone and able to soak up every glorious sound and icy snowflake that tickled our cheeks?
‘God with us’
Our only explanation was Immanuel — God with us. He provided exactly what we needed when we needed it.
Psalm 73:26 tells us, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
And so while the lyrics of Andy Williams’ 1963 hit “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” may not be the full reality for our Christmas seasons, we can look to the One who always holds us tight and gave us the greatest gift we could ever desire — Jesus Christ.
And through Him we can receive the gift of redemption, salvation and so much more.
Isaiah 9:6 says it best: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”