Growing up we used to refer to the Christmas season as “the magic”, mostly to taunt my younger brother long after he had stopped listening for reindeer on the roof. Every year the songs would start to play on the radio, lights would be hung on houses, and red and green would fill stores and collectively we joked that it was the magic. We’d pull out our favorite holiday movies, eat our favorite meals, and all feel a little bit less stressed. We let bathroom sharing quarrels go, laughed at our family jokes, and listened to every Amy Grant Christmas song known to man. As much as “the magic” was a joke it always felt real, it always felt like we really did get to experience something magical. We were never overly religious about Christmas, I mean we knew why we celebrated and we read the Christmas story, but it was more that we felt what we had believed all year. We didn’t light advent candles or read something every night but our house was filled to the brim with love and laughter.
Fast forward and here I am ten years out of our cozy family home and building memories and traditions with my own family. Before December came I sat down and did something I almost never do, I set my expectations and I set them realistically (which means low….). We have two LITTLE KIDS (like we only recently got one out of diapers) and as much as I want to light advent candles and sing carols that talk about Jesus birth I know that realistically someone would light something on fire. As much as I want to read the long version of Jesus’s birth I will have to settle for the cliff notes until my oldest can listen without finding her nose treasures more interesting (boogers and burgers sound a lot alike these days and I don’t know if she quite knows the difference). So I set them low and I decided that we would just enjoy all the newness that came with each part of the Christmas story and the season.
Then the other day she was coloring and she started singing away in a manger, and I teared up because I am a mom and when your three year old sings about Jesus you cry, and then we went to sing a Children’s Choir at church and she asked all about who they sing to and why they dance and I teared up again. Tiny seeds that with the right prayer and nourishment will grow big fruit. A Big God always blows our sand sized expectations out of the water.
The other morning as I was reading my advent book (to myself sans kids because kids don’t care about the dramatic details of the greatest event in history… see booger comment) I realized this Christmas season had been magical. Not because I manifested big God moments but because God came, because he always does. Because each year songs, lights, books, and children’s tiny voices remind us that the magic happened. It was quiet, soft, and slow (like my favorite Christmas song says) but he came and he gave us enough love and hope to make it through the rest of the seasons. We don’t have to feel it, we don’t have to create it, it just happens whether we have prepared or whether we are just bystanders enjoying the show. Magic or not, every year it takes my breath away when I think about the little baby that came not only for my big sin ravaged heart but for my children’s tiny little ones who quietly sing songs they have yet to even understand.