Christmas has come and gone again, but this year it feels a little odd. In a way, I’m still waiting for it to arrive. Hasn’t it felt like there was just no build-up to it this year, it just sort of crept up on us all? This year there just seemed to be less festivity, less carol singing, less anticipation. Or maybe I’m just growing up, something that I thought wasn’t likely to happen in the never-never land we call Hong Kong.
Christmas always makes me feel a little melancholy, too. Not the whole day; just that for a few short minutes in the day for the past two or three years, I’ve reflected on past Christmas’s, and it saddens me, how much it’s changed for me. I’m sure you’re the same – when you’re only little, Christmas is the most magical time of the year. There are presents and mince pies and singing, and everybody seems to be so in love with everybody else. Everything bad that’s happening, all your uncertain circumstances or times of trial, they all get put on hold for the few days that Christmas consumes, and everybody’s high-spirited and happy. Or so it seems, to a small child. Christmas is made for children. I remember year after year, waking up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning and racing into my parents’ bedroom to wake them up and then leaping down the stairs to the living room, to see what Santa had brought.
Sad to say, this year, I woke up on Christmas morning only because my Dad had come through to the living room where I was sleeping (I don’t have a bedroom in my parents house anymore) to use the computer. For a minute, it didn’t even hit me what the occasion was. Thank God for the little boy my parents are fostering, the only person in the house who seemed excited about the whole thing. He came into the living room and kissed me, wished me a merry Christmas and proceeded to rip open his parcels, yelling over them like each one was the best gift he’d ever received. Like I said, Christmas is made for children.
That’s another thing about growing up, when it comes to Christmas. When you’re little, everything you open is like gold. It could be anything from the world’s biggest doll house to a packet of jelly beans, to a child, it’s nothing but exciting. As you get older, not only does your yearly pile of parcels diminish in size, but the gifts get less exhilarating and more useful. That’s not to say we don’t still appreciate the presents, but it’s a different kind of appreciation, isn’t it. It’s less “Oh, this is fun!” more “Oh, this will come in handy”.
But I’m talking like Christmas is all about presents and food now. It’s not. I guess the one great thing about understanding Christmas more from an adult point of view is that you really start to appreciate the true meaning behind it – Jesus. That really struck me this year, singing a carol about shepherds going to visit the new-born King: how awestruck they must have been, looking onto that baby and knowing He had come to save the world. How absolutely speechless that must have left them, and how honored they must have felt to be some of the first human beings to stand in His presence. And that’s what makes Christmas something special every year, without fail, is knowing that we’re really celebrating how great God is, that He wanted to share His Son with us in that manner.