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Christmas Spirit

My childhood Christmas tradition included a Charlie Brown tree. Most people, looking for the “cut your own tree’ experience, go to a tree farm. We walked out the back door, and within a few hundred metres we’d choose a fresh alder or birch, chop it down prematurely and drag it home. Those woods are long gone now, bulldozed to make way for more split entry homes with perfectly manicured lawns. But at that time, those woods were filled with the spirit of Christmas.

The narratives of our lives, of course, are not all warm and cozy. some are hard-edge and painful.

Do you have a warm Christmas memory; something saturated with the taste, sound, the feel of the season? Something warm and comforting? Maybe it’s carols sung around the old upright piano with no one ever really knowing whether Jingle Bells begins on the verse or chorus. Maybe the card table came out once a year, the jigsaw puzzle a frenzy of activity, at least until the border was finished. Do you remember the feeling of grasping for the orange from the toe of your stocking, oh how it smelled like Christmas!


The narratives of our lives, of course, are not all warm and cozy. Some are hard-edge and painful. But can you to search through the depths of Christmases past and come up with something, one small thing, that holds warmth and tenderness? Even when tinged by grief, loss, and the passage of time, something deeper than nostalgia, lingers. It’s what you might call Christmas spirit. I’m convinced that Christmas spirit; the sense that things are good, that life is full and beautiful – holds in our heart - because it’s a taste of abundant life. Jesus told his friends one day that he had come among them as one who brought life abundant – not a perfect life, not an always shiny life, not a grief-free life, but an abundant life.


An abundant life acknowledges the rhythm of life; a life lived with eyes wide open to the terror and beauty of it all. It takes the carol sing with the bumbling pianist and grins at the wonder that we get to sing Jingle Bells at all. Abundant life celebrates the fact that an orange in the foot of the stocking has come to be a tradition, even when it’s your absolute least favorite fruit. Abundant life knows that the breadth of our heartache is outmatched by the depth of our love for whatever has been lost along the way.


Speaking of Charlie Brown trees, do you remember Charlie Brown’s Christmas? Maybe it’s part of your holiday tradition. There’s this moment when Charlie shouts out in exasperation “Can someone just tell me what Christmas is all about?” With uncustomary confidence Linus pipes up, “I can!” He steps into the spotlight and recites the Christmas story from heart. When he gets to the part where the angel of the Lord tells Mary to not be afraid, he drops his security blanket. You may have missed it, it’s subtle.

It seems like no accident that his beloved blanket slips through his fingers at the precise moment he says, “don’t be afraid.” I don’t think God slipped into skin and breath to tell us we should live in fear, to tell us we should be layered with shame for all our missteps and regrets. I don’t think God would bother with the whole human thing if the essential essence

of the divine was anything but pure love. That whole thing about Jesus coming to die for our sins so we wouldn’t have to… bah humbug. I don’t need someone to die for me. I need someone to urge me to live life abundantly, to remind me that my ordinary mess of a life is a gift, to remind me that there is beauty in the pain and light in the cracks. Not a scapegoat life but an abundant life oriented to grace and wonder and awe.


That whole thing about Jesus coming to die for our sins so we wouldn’t have to… bah humbug.

Our lives – yours and mine - weave together laughter and tears, love and loss. And when the Christmas spirit seeps into our hearts, they grow three times their size, and we’re able to hold the hopes and fears of all the years with a sense of grace and wonder. Life is warm memories and uncertain futures. What memory or promise will enliven your soul enough to say yes to that fragile future, knowing that the hopes and fears of all the years will continue to be born in your heart?


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1 Comment

Bob Peacock
Bob Peacock
Dec 24, 2023

I love Christmas. I love everything about it. The sounds, the smells, the snow, at least a little. And, of course the Story behind it all. For me it's all about LOVE INCARNATE, that this small child would and did love and DOES STILL, to this day love us so very much. It is so sad that we only see the manifest love of the Christ child during December. I would love to see it manifested 365/66 forever. Too many

memories good and bad to post here. I try and create new ones every year. MERRY CHRISTMAS YA'LL. Bob.😍

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