It was the night before the night before Christmas and I was a skinny lad of about 5 years of age who lived with his parents and siblings in a small 2 bedroom house in an older neighbourhood in Saskatoon.
It was already dark that cold winters night and we had just finished supper. Mom was by the kitchen sink washing dishes humming along to the sound of Harry Belafonte singing “Mary’s Boy Child” which was on one of the three Christmas albums we had. Dad was sitting in the brown chair across the small living room from me, reading the evening paper.
It had been a long season that year, waiting for Christmas to arrive, but now it was very nearly upon us. I had somehow made it through the terrible gut wrenching event that was the Sunday School Christmas Program, as a shepherd yet again. I hated the up front main spotlight, “say your lines right,” kind of pressure. I was always sure I would be sick before I went on stage, but I never was sick enough to stay home. Besides, that would have meant no peanut and candy bags from the Sunday school for participating.
And earlier that day I had gone outside with dad as he cleared the walk one more time and then we went to the pop shoppe to get our special christmas treat, a twenty four bottle case of whatever kinds of pop we wanted to pick. And we only did that at Christmas time.
But now in the living room, I was half sitting, half laying down on the floor and I was edging myself slowly under the tree just a bit, to maybe catch a glimpse through a possible tear in the wrapping paper of the gift that was named to come to me in just two more sleeps. It was a box that was small enough to hold my medium sized hopes and dreams, at least by the Eaton's Wishbook standards, yet big enough to give me reason to hope just a bit beyond my expectations.
I had wiggled my head well beneath the brightly lit tree and it was looking distinctly possible that I might be able to see some little clue, when my dad said, without lifting his eyes from the paper, that if I were to touch it, then it would go away for who knows how long and I probably wouldn’t want that to happen on the night before the night before christmas.
I was ok with that, and I was grateful that he had made things so clear for me. No problem with that then, I could so do that, no problem.
And so I stopped my squirming and just lay there. I lay there staring up into the evergreen branches at what seemed like hundreds of coloured lights shinning and reflecting off the colourful bulbs hanging on the tree. I was mesmerized.
Then Andy Williams began to croon on the record player; “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” and as I lay there I thought, Andy’s right, it IS the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s a time for brilliant colours and bright lights. A time for special music and a time of special programs on the black and white TV for kids of all ages. For Charlie Brown and the Grinch and Frosty the Snow Man.
It’s the time of year when you get the milkman a small box of chocolates for all that he does all year. But just a small affordable box.
It’s a time of possibilities and maybe dreams coming true. A time for family to gather and be together, just to be. It’s a time when you eat special things that you don’t get all year round and a time when the inside of your house smells like the forest outside.
It’s the time when you can sing silent night by the light of the tree and it does something strange inside your five year old chest.
And I remember laying there beneath all that glory and all the weight of those deep thoughts, and I realized that this is the most wonderful time of the year. I understood that with all my being, at least all the being that a five year old can muster up.
I’m sure I was glowing just as much as the tree that dark cold night in that warm loved little home, in Saskatoon.
Wonder has always been a part of Christmas.
From Elisabeth and Zechariah who were told by an angel that they would have a baby boy in their advanced years and that they should call him John.
To the the shepherds who were visited by an angelic choir.
Or the wise men who came from a great distance because the stars and prophecies told them to go.
Or for a young girl, a virgin, who was told she would have a baby and he would be the savior of the world.
When this realization settled in on her she sang in wonder,
"I'm bursting with God-news;
I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened
I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave ?on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It's exactly what he promised
beginning with Abraham and right up to now."
Wonder. Wonder has always been a part of Christmas
It’s not just for five year olds and for women having babies.
It’s for each of you because the God of Wonder is the God of Christmas.
Let the wonder in this year.
Open your heart just a crack, and the Wonder can rush in with light and glory and hope and a future.
May the Wonder of Christmas be yours this season.