I have reviewed in my head this Christmas the Christmas' of my childhood: going with family and friends to church in the dark, candle light service and coming back to my Grandparents house on the Nelson farm in Kingsburg. People gathered after the service for food, and then we each opened one Christmas gift before going to bed. What I remember most was the joy and the community that the celebrations of Christ's birth were. Family and church gathered together to celebrate God come to earth in a human infant.
I remembered those few Christmas' as a child (soon we'd begin to go as often as not to my aunt and uncle's who'd moved to LA, as be home in Kingsburg at the old Nelson family farm) not longing for something I didn't have but because I was experiencing that joy an community around this Christmas celebration, yet without any of the trappings of my childhood. My sister does not go to church, her partner is Jewish and not religious, so and my parents did not come into town this year. There was no lutefisk, or potatosausages, or German meets and cheese, no Swedish meatballs etc.
I think for the last few years I have really mourned the way in which Christmas was celebrated by my family. I think I still miss the activity and chaos of the preparation, the joyful business getting ready for Christmas eve service, the joyful return from our worship as the church of this holy night, and the gifts, the multiple readings of the nativity stories (although as a child I slightly resented them, because we had heard the story in church).
This Christmas was quieter, the sense of community more tenuous, but the joy of the day was here, the joy of remembering how God became incarnate, remembering the humility of God. It was a good and joyful Christmas day, I hope it was as well for you as well even if it wasn't quite what it was in years pasts, even if things or people were missing from your celebration.
Joy and Peace to all.