Reading the Christmas story.
Breakfast and laughter with dear friends. Toddler squeals and little boy hugs.
An afternoon cuddled under quilts, the love poured into each hand stitch warming us through.
A quiet, candlelight dinner and the final Advent reading.
Christmas carols played by hesitant fingers reaching for the right keys and stumbling over a few notes. Voices raised in praise anyway. Joy to the World!
Soft white flakes falling to the ground, bringing an answer to the prayer I've whispered every year since childhood. Finally, a white Christmas.
And for the first time in so many years I've lost count, there was no This is it? or I can't believe it's over stirring in my heart. I wasn't tempted to think about the hours I'd spent working, only to see the fruit of my labors consumed within mere minutes.
A short gift list saved me from hours of shopping.
A short grocery list saved me from hours of baking.
A short activity list saved me from hours away from home and family.
Instead of preparing for the holiday, preparing for His coming. Not anticipating a perfect Christmas, but a perfect Christ. Longing more to light that final candle than to unwrap any gift under the tree.
When the expectation of Christmas is Christ Himself, there are no disappointments and no letdowns.
There is no guilt for not finding the perfect gift, because we know it's already been given and there's no way to top it.
There is no shame in not filling the kitchen with food that spoils, because we know the Bread of Life sustains us.
There is no remorse in skipping parties and productions, because we know a lowly manger hosted the greatest celebration the world has ever known.
There is only joy because even though Christmas Day is done, we know the Christmas Child still reigns.