The presents are all unwrapped. Santa’s stockings are emptied. Signs of yet another great Christmas celebration are everywhere. And my husband and children are asleep. The lights on the tree still shine and this is my time for my private Christmas.
It is private because most don’t understand it.
I didn’t understand it at first. Like everyone else I grew up with the traditions of Christmas. The mistletoe, the concerts, the decorations, the bustle of gifting and fixing foods and enjoying gatherings. Those things are still a part of it.
But Christmas isn’t Christmas for me until my private Christmas.
I credit three very separate and different events for teaching this to me over the years. The first happened when I was 12.
My grandmother told me and I did not understand when she said, “Jesus is gift enough for anyone for Christmas. You must come to understand that.”
Of course, I was 12. I did not understand that. But I adored my grandmother and her words were embedded in my heart. I would remember them years later at several key events in my life, both good and bad.
The second event was by far the most life changing event ever for me. I was 17 and involved in a tragic accident. One person died and I quite nearly died myself. Actually, I did die, though I rarely share the details of that with anyone.
I tried once. And I was called crazy.
I read these books about people who have near death experiences and I wonder how they survive a world that bullies so readily. I cannot share all that happened to me. I was in a coma for weeks, and I spent nearly five months in the hospital.
That was years ago now. So much more has happened to me. But that five-month hole in my life forever impacts my every day. And it did change my Christmas forever.
The third event was another medical episode, though not one that happened to me. It happened to my baby sister. A tubal pregnancy nearly took her life and robbed her at any chance of ever having children. I can recall a Christmas weekend in the hospital waiting room, praying and crying tears she at the time could not cry.
I knew how much she wanted a baby. We had talked and cried about it together many times. Now her life was in extreme danger.
With Christmas decorations hanging over my head I prayed like I had never prayed before. It was one of many special private Christmases I would celebrate.
Here is what I know:
That same Jesus we celebrate as a Baby in a manger was born into this world to “descend below all things”. That means he knows these very moments of pain we experience. He understands.
For a world that discounts a God that allows bad things to happen to good people there is little understanding or compassion.
But the God I worship understands these things because He has gone through them too. In His wisdom things both good and bad happen to us to help us grow. And He understands. He loves. He heals the wounds and judges not the scars.
To me that is The Gift. That is what my grandmother was trying to teach me when she said “Jesus is gift enough for anyone”.
I don’t know why some are chosen for greater trials. Some get diseases. Some suffer accidents. Some escape them all, seemingly, and go through so little. I don’t know why that is true.
But I do know that He understands and that He loves perfectly.
That is what I celebrate at my private Christmas.
I am surrounded by good people who don’t understand that, who don’t believe that. I cannot do anything about eyes that cannot see this.
They call me crazy whenever I bring it up.
But He understands. And that is a gift. A gift enough for anyone.