Children understand the pure joy of Christmas. Advent teaches them that special things are worth waiting for and are worthy of preparation.
Advent candles and calendars mark the longing. Hymns, and especially Plainsong chants, awake ancient drums of hope within.
One Christmas Eve night when I was about 4 years old, I heard my dad’s footsteps going up and down the stairs of the gigantic log cabin house we lived in on Diamond Street in Elkins, West Virginia. I peeked out my bedroom door and saw him. In Daddy’s arms were stacks of beautifully wrapped presents. I couldn’t even see his face there were so many!
He didn’t see me and I carefully closed the bedroom door and crept back into my bed with a secret smile.
Many years passed and I never told my brother or my sister who the “real” Santa was. Partly, because I knew even then that Santa wasn’t nearly as important as Christ. It is called Christmas, after all. You don’t have to be a grown-up to work that one out.
As the decades pass, pure joy becomes more difficult to hold on to because the losses seem to swell like great autumnal storms that strip the last of the leaves from the beautiful trees.
Even as we prepare to celebrate the joy of the birth of Christ, we know the cross, the path to death, is waiting for him. For us. Steep yourselves in Advent – be thoughtful, receptive to all that is Holy and true, but try, even in 2020, to enjoy Christmas with the joy of a child. Glory awaits.