“WOOOOWWWW!” I hear for the 100th time followed by pitter-patter feet as my little girl races towards the Christmas tree. She never gets tired of it. Time after time, we come down the stairs, we round the corner, and her reaction is the same: “WOOOWWW!” She loves the lights; she is enchanted by them. Once the sun sets in the evenings, she races to the front window to look at our neighbor’s lights across the street. She looks back at us as if to say, “Do you guys see this?” Her saucer eyes tell us that she is simply amazed!
Somehow, somewhere, most of us lose some of the magic and wonder of Christmas along the way. Decking the halls, stocking stuffing, and cookie decorating become a task to complete instead of something to savor. For me, I can’t think of a particular time or place where the switch flipped but year after year, the change slowly took place and the wonder was replaced with worry and work. This is often the same with the Christmas story. We’ve heard the account year after year: the unexpected pregnancy, the journey to Bethlehem on the donkey, the birth, the star, the shepherds, the wise men. Just as our celebrations of the season can become monotonous, so can our interaction with Jesus’ birth story.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” In the midst of our scrolling and shopping, the joy of the season can often seem an arm’s length away. The beauty of the joy that we find at the manger is that it is not dependent on our circumstances. The joy of Christmas isn’t found in any present, but in the presence of Jesus. In his presence, our joy is complete. Fast forward from the manger scene years later, Jesus tells his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) This verse reminds us that he came into the world as a helpless baby, but he would leave the world as a conquering king. Whatever we are traveling with this year, whatever circumstance we find ourselves in, when we come to the manger, we can trade our chaos for cheer.
What if these next few days, we put down our phones and picked up a board game or an old family photo album? What if the next few days we stopped comparing our lives to tiny squares on a screen and instead took a few moments to count all the ways we are blessed? What if we said, “WOOWWW!” again and again these next few days and returned to Jesus the thanks, glory, and praise due his name? May we take a few moments to sit in the presence of the King of Kings, who humbled himself to a manger, to become for us what we could not be for ourselves. Just as my 14 month old is amazed at our Christmas tree over and over, may we never lose the wonder of the light of the world entering into our dark world.
As the popular Christmas tune sings,
“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,
it’s the best time of the year!
Now I don’t know if there’ll be snow,
but have a cup of cheer!”
Snow or no snow, alone or surrounded, laughter or tears, let the joy of Jesus hold you close this Christmas. As we reflect on the true miracle that we celebrate, may we come to the manger saying “WOOOWWW!!” over and over and over again.