It’s easy for the charm of Christmas to wear thin as the years go by. Things just get… old. Routine. Like a chore even.
Back in September, I wrote about how early Christmas comes in the Philippines, and how I was looking forward to warming up to the season, rather than it sneaking up on me. The past six Christmases, I would arrive in Manila only days before Christmas, still exhausted from a hectic semester or a brutal finals season. Coming home, it felt that Christmas suddenly threw itself upon me, just like the heat that hits like a wall when you first walk out of the airport in this city. I was caught unaware, unlike the Christmases of growing up when expectation built steadily and heartily. Back then, once Christmas Eve finally came, you were at the peak of your holiday joy, not weakly catching up. It was a bit like jetlag – but a lag of Christmas spirit!
But with work being busy and life in full swing, Christmas still sort of snuck up on me. We didn’t put up a tree until just a couple of days before Christmas (buying it only a few days before that!) And our family’s Christmas stockings weren’t hung up until Christmas eve, just shortly after the glitter glue, boasting all of our names (even those of the little niece -one of whom is patiently waiting her grand entrance into the world), had dried.
(Christmas Eve with the Aritaos! Almost complete! Missing oldest sister Jan and sending lots of love to her in Singapore!)
But what didn’t sneak up, was the warmth of the season, the brightness of smiles and the joy of giving. There have been too many reasons why Christmas is beautiful this year ! However, underneath all that, was and always is the real joy of Christmas – not the bright lights, not the bond of family, not the generosity of strangers, but the coming of a little King into a manger, oh so many years ago.
As I sit at the foot and the light of our new Christmas tree (our first new tree since I was seven years old! – A good story waiting to be told), I reflect on the true Christmas story, and how this story never gets old. For that and only that, will the charm of Christmas never wear thin.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”