This pre-Christmas season has been hard. I wanted to be excited for the upcoming holidays, but instead of excitement, I felt empty. The things I have always looked forward to about Christmas just left me feeling uninterested this year. I don’t know why, and I wish I could better explain it. But I can’t.
(Don’t worry. I’m okay. Nothing catastrophic happening here. Just crazy, busy, beautiful life as a family of seven.)
My husband saw my struggle to get in the spirit and did what he does best—he supported me. He knew that growing up I had a favorite Christmas CD by Garth Brooks. So he secretly scoured the internet and found the treasure. He texted me the day it was delivered and gave me permission to open it without him. I am a much more patient gift giver and receiver than he is, so I waited until he got home.
He watched in anticipation as I opened the package to find Garth staring back at me. Tears dropped onto the case as I thanked my sweet husband. I had looked for the CD before but because it was old and only available on sites selling used items, I lost patience and gave up. Now, here it was in my hands.
Headed out for preschool pick-up the next morning, I popped it into the suburban’s CD player, met only by silence and an error message flashing on the screen. Ugh.
A damaged CD as a gift seemed to appropriately match my Christmas spirit or lack thereof.
Later, I tried again, and this time, it worked perfectly. As I drove home, I waited anxiously for my favorite song, skipping through the classics in search of it. But I never found it.
It was the wrong CD.
This one had been released in 1999, the album from my childhood was Beyond the Season, released in 1992.
Later that night, I hesitantly told my husband it wasn’t the right CD. He was almost as disappointed as I was. He had tried so hard to find it for me. He quickly jumped on his phone and tracked down the right CD . . . selling for $60! As much as I wanted it, I was the first to say it, “It’s not worth that much.” I decided to enjoy the music of the first CD even without my favorite song.
A few days later, my husband walked in the door and threw a package at me. Confused, I opened it. Inside was THE album. The right CD. The one that transported me to my childhood.
I immediately stuck it in our kitchen CD player and skipped to my favorite song. With tears in my eyes again, I hugged my husband. Then I sunk to the floor and just listened.
I was suddenly a young girl singing beside my mom in the van on the way to and from, well, anywhere during the month of December.
I watched in my memories as the Christmases of my childhood played in my mind.
I listened to the voices of my classmates and me singing “Go Tell It on the Mountain” at our Christmas Eve program.
I heard the precious verses of the Christmas story in Luke recited by nervous, shaky, little voices.
I felt the cold, crisp air fill my lungs as I walked up the sidewalk to our home, eyes skyward looking for reindeer.
I squealed in delight as my grandparents walked through the door—immediately pointing to the mountain of presents that had appeared under the tree while we were at church.
And then Garth’s voice drew me back into reality. I heard my kids in the background and looked around at the evidence of my Christmas present.
Seven days before Christmas sitting on my kitchen floor, I found my Christmas spirit.
Turns out it can’t be found in gift exchanges, holiday baking, wrapping-paper, a beautiful tree, twinkling lights, a holiday concert, or even a nativity scene on display.
It’s found deep in the heart of a giver with a desire to see his bride smile and soak up a song.
It’s found in the memories of a little girl who, as a grown woman, no longer remembers what was in the packages, but remembers how it felt to be loved.
It’s found in a God who uses willing and obedient people to restore the joy of Christmas to hearts that didn’t know how.
It’s found in a relentless God who pursues even hardened hearts.
It’s found through a God who sent His Son, Immanuel, . . .
to be born as a baby . . .
to die as a man . . .
to offer grace and salvation to all who believe.