Monday, December 24, 2012

Let It Come Quietly


I have struggled to feel Christmas this year.  I’ve bought the presents, written the Christmas letter, made and received treats, decorated the tree—but all without feeling it in my heart. 

Each year I watch for the moment when I really start feeling the joy of the season.  There is no predictable way to know when it will come; sometimes it’s triggered by a movie, or a song, or an activity.  But this year, nothing.

Someone that I haven’t seen in a few months asked after church yesterday how the new house was, if we were getting settled in, feeling happy, etc.  I told her that the answer is complicated; that yes, we had been.  But that the Christmas season seems to have had a negative effect.  I think it’s just been one big reminder, just when we were really starting to get our emotional feet under us, of how big this change has been.  We are in this new house, with no idea of where to put the Christmas decorations.  Once again a major holiday without our holiday people who have been a part of every celebration we’ve had for more than a decade.  If I have felt any emotion consistently this Christmas season, it has been grief.  Which I am certain is not what people mean when they talk about “feeling the Christmas spirit.”

Yesterday we had a lovely sacrament meeting program.  Lots of music, the choir sang well, and in addition to my lovely girls a double quart that was richly beautiful and had “glorias” in the chorus. 

In my primary class I sat and listened to the other teacher teach the children that our Heavenly Father remembers all of his children, wherever they are.  She and the children read scriptures prophesying of Christ’s birth from Isaiah and Helaman, and then read the account of His birth from the New Testament.  I sat and thought about those righteous Nephites who faithfully awaited the Savior’s birth.  I am always humbled by their courage and faith.  I thought of the reactions of the shepherds when the angels came to tell them of the new baby, and of the puzzling instruction that the baby would be found in an animal feed box.  We looked at a world map and I wondered exactly how far the Wise Men traveled to come and see the Christ child.  I thought how lucky I am to have been born in this time, when I can read both prophesies and witnesses of His birth.

I thought more about the Nephite Christmas throughout the evening.  I read again the words spoken to Nephi by the Lord—one of my favorite moments in the Book of Mormon.  “Lift up your head and be of good cheer, for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I unto the world.” 

Sunday night I stayed up late to email Jason, not certain that I would be up early enough on Monday to email him before he was online in Chile.  I wrote to him about a small and relatively unimportant (in the grand scheme of things) tender mercy I’d seen in my life recently, and about some tremendous and probably life-saving tender mercies our friends had just experienced.  As I wrote I felt such gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father who is concerned and caring for us—not just in the big problems, but in the little ones as well.

I lay in bed later waiting to fall asleep and thinking over the happenings and thoughts of the day.  My thoughts drifted back to the primary lesson again.  The children in our class are often very energetic, and sometimes it’s hard to know if they’re actually internalizing anything from a lesson.  I don’t know if they did that day, but I do know that I did.  As I lay there thinking of the lesson, thinking of all of the different prophets who testified of Christ’s birth, sometimes hundreds of years before He would be born, my heart was filled again with gratitude—gratitude for the prophecies of His birth, and for the fact of His birth. 

And then I thought to myself, oh, there it is in my heart right now.  The joy of Christmas.  Remembering what a gift the birth of our Savior truly was and is.  That is what I had been waiting for all along.


           Let it Come Quietly

Let it come quietly this day, as sifting snow upon the earth.
Let me be quiet, worshiping with all my heart,
remembering my Savior’s birth.
Let there be singing in my heart
and choirs caroling His name, telling His praise like holy angel’s song.
Oh, let His light light up my soul to point me to His holy way,
a star to follow to His love.

[Song from the New Era years ago.]

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