“What was the one moment this season where you felt the Christmas spirit?” asked the priest during his homily on the Feast of the Epiphany. This is the Sunday that symbolizes the end of the twelve days of Christmas. Christmas is officially over.
Of course, I knew Christmas was over. I had after all recently given some presents, received some presents, and even returned some presents. And what made the message all the more clear was the fact that just yesterday, I de-decorated the house. No more tree. No more glistening lights. No more Christmas.
But his question echoed throughout my brain that had just prided itself on checking off that last item on my Christmas to-do list. Unfortunately, a checklist Christmas is the way I seemed to celebrate it this year.
No check. But perhaps , I should say, “checkmate” to this one , because I had forgotten about my King. Did I put Him on my list at all?
I can come up with all sorts of excuses as to why this year was different. I can cite my kids busy schedules, my work demands, and I can even find justification in the reality that both my parents were in hospitals right before Christmas.
But the check I always need to… strive to… live to …check off my Christmas to-do list is the one where I find my Christmas spirit. Usually this involves me stepping away from the demands of the holidays, and sitting in front of the glowing Christmas lights in my darkened house, usually with “O, Holy Night” in the background. That’s the moment where I take the time to breathe in the precious spirit of Christmas. I take the time to let it seep through the busy-ness of my world and fill my weary soul. That’s when I take the time to thank God for being the light in my darkness.
But I didn’t take that time this year. And the tree, like my Christmas spirit, is sitting abandoned at the curb. The illuminating lights, like my to-do list, have been packed and taken to the basement until next year.
So when asked when I felt the Christmas spirit the most this year, I wanted to cry. Not for myself and what I lacked --- but for my lack of acknowledgement and complete gratitude for the most precious gift I have ever been given.
That Holy Night came … and left. And I didn’t take the time to breathe it in.
With my head bowed, I beckoned the words to my wise Christmas carol to wash over my guilty conscience.
“Christ is the Lord! Forever, ever praise we
His power and glory ever more proclaim!”
And I had to smile.
Forever. That’s the time we are told to praise him, to celebrate His birth. There is nothing there that says it all has to be done before or during those twelve days of Christmas …and then checked off our to-do lists, until next year.
So, I’m going to try… and try… and then try harder… to feel that Christmas spirit I’ve lately been too busy to feel, for the next 364 days. I am planning on praising Him every day, and remembering Christmas as I do. Maybe I’ll retrieve a string of lights from the basement to help remind me.
Just thinking about it, brings me a piece of that peace now.
I guess on this feast day, I had my own little epiphany, after all.