(All images in this post courtesy of Karen's Whimsy)
Christmas magic...the air was tinged with it. My steps slowed as titled my head back and took in the awe and wonder of the inky velvet sky. God was just turning on His nightly display of holiday lights. Pin pricks of light dotted the universe above, a design that far outshone any being recreated on the front lawns of homes and in store front displays all over town.
Was I the only one who felt it? I looked around at the sight and sound of fast clipped steps, boots and shoes shuffling quickly across pavement. Scuttling and scurrying people darting to and fro, in and out of whooshing doors that either spit them out or swallowed them up. Hands that went in empty came out full, bulging bags testified that they knew Christmas was coming but where was the wonder and awe? Perhaps it was tightly bundled in the bags and boxes they carried. Maybe they were guarding it to be unwrapped later. I hoped not, for they were missing precious moments of Christmas magic...the anticipation of the coming.
The air was crisp and fresh, the kind that makes ones cheeks tingle and turn rosy, the kind that sharpens ones senses to joy and delight, the kind that masks all unpleasantries. I walked through the mock forest of trees on criss-crossed wooden stands brushing close enough to the branches to catch as whiff of Christmas. Every few feet I stopped and inhaled deeply the spicy pine and cedar scent...more Christmas magic. No one seemed to notice either myself or the trees so I continued my waltz among them. These trees knew, they sacrificed themselves from the comfort of their forest to light up someone's holiday...more Christmas magic.
The tinkling sound of a lone bell jingled in its familiar rhythm as a shivering ringer huddled near a little red kettle, its sound calling out to the crowd to take notice by opening their hearts and wallets giving to those less fortunate. Heads ducked, eyes darted away, steps hastened, and wallets remained closed for the most part, understandable in these tight times. I could not help but think of the little drummer boy who had no gifts to bring to lay before the King; he gave what he had...his music. I wondered if the patrons of the big box business knew that all the gew-gaws and trinkets, latest gadget or top toy could never out shine the simple joy of a heart that was filled with gratitude and love for the babe in the manger...still more Christmas magic.
Shaking myself out of my reverie I entered the fray of harried shoppers. Was this what tax season was like in the city of old as Joseph and Mary approached? Were they pushed and trod upon, were they received rudely? Certainly there was no room for them, or for me either, I mused as I imagined the brimming bright red carts as camels whose packs were laid with all manner of goods...exotic spices to season cookies and pies, cloth and fabric to swath banquet tables, candles to illuminate rooms, etc. as they jammed themselves tightly down narrow aisles. I felt the Christmas magic being pushed away like the heavy laden carts as shoppers labored through the throng checking off their lists.
Pulling my meager cart alongside the other shoppers I dutifully stood in line waiting to pay for my purchases amid much muttering and grumbling. The lines were too long, the staff to short, tempers tipped, and impatient sighs erupted. This must have resembled the imposed taxing in Joseph and Mary's day. It's no wonder that the Christmas magic was overlooked; everyone was focused on earthly duty and delight. I looked over the throngs of shoppers and I did not see any happy faces, no smiles in eyes or on lips. I did not see any radiant joy only grimace over the cost of this or that toy. Was this why Christmas magic was amiss? Too much thought on Christmas toy and too little on Christmas joy?
I spread my cheer as best I could with nod and smile that reached the eye and spread to the lips. I prayed a radiant joy would warm those around me on this chilly evening. I encourage the harried clerk and let the dollar and some change tinkle into the red kettle as I exited the store. I let the rhythmic sound of the tinny bell match my steps for one last waltz through the mock forest of evergreens. "Evergreens, forever green, always green, and unchanging..." trailed a thought across my mind. Herein lies the secret of Christmas magic...keeping the Christ of Christmas fresh in your heart and mind and the center of your focus.
The blanket of night softly enveloped me as I turned my back on the big box business. A quite settled around me with the nightlight of stars to shine the way home. One shining a little more brilliant and little brighter than the rest, not unlike the one the Wise Men followed. They knew what they were seeking that long ago Christmas morn, the precious baby who was stable born, the Messiah, the Savior, Jesus, the King, the one true gift that Christmas brings.
My heart was wrapped in delight and joy that for one brief moment it could employ the magic of Christmas amid all the mundane of an ordinary day as I was able to clearly see Christmas through the entire fray. "Evergreen" has become the prayer of my heart, fresh unchanging devotion on my part, to keep the Christ of Christmas as my central focus not just now at holiday time but to pungently permeate my heart and mind each and every moment left of life time.
Wishing you Christmas magic too!