AdventPosted: December 23, 2012
This, truly, is my favorite time of year. In America, I love the furor and hubbub, the lights twinkling glittery-white in the cold as we drive past, the parties and the celebrations, even the shopping malls full of shoppers–although (truth be known) I love those better observed from afar and not when I’m in a Christmas panic myself. I love the Christmas movies, even the terrible ones on the Hallmark Channel; the traditions–hot chocolate while decorating the tree as Bing Crosby croons in the background, carefully putting out the china and crystal for Christmas dinner, and perhaps most of all the Christmas Eve walk my dad, sisters, and aunt take each year after dinner in my tiny Alabama hometown.
Although Bing Crosby will be the voice of Christmas to me as long as I live, so many of these traditions don’t happen each year. Not living here, in Asia, where the most traditional Christmas activity I’ve discovered is giving your friends an apple on Christmas Eve. (The word for apple here is very close to the word for Christmas Eve.) A part of me, not a small part, mourns that loss each year. My first Christmas in Asia, before I was married, I remember breaking down and sobbing in front of all my friends on Christmas Eve–things were good, but it wasn’t the same. And my tradition-treasuring heart wanted the same.
But, no matter where I am at Christmastime, the most important tradition of all continues unabated. The celebration of Advent, this season of expectation, of hoping toward the arrival of that great day when our fears turn to joy and our tears turn to laughter, is, truly, “how my heart finds Christmas.” No matter where I am, no matter how elaborate or simple the trappings, all the tradition points to one thing. One person, rather: the Child whose arrival brings hope for all mankind.
Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end
By his life he brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall
This the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.