What does Christmas look like for you? As Christians, we know the story of the babe in the manger, the starry night, the Savior, the Light of the World. We understand how that night plays out in our own salvation story, begun in Bethlehem and ending at the empty tomb. We replay it every year so that we’ll remember.
But we move too fast at Christmas, don’t we? There’s the office party, the school play, the relatives in from out of town, shopping, cooking, decorating, caroling, candlelight services, opening presents and then…what? Why does everyone seem to take a deep breath and feel relieved when it’s all over?
I have this suggestion. It stems from my love of photography. It goes like this. Make sure your smartphone, that point-and-shoot, or that monster-megapixel DSLR camera goes everywhere with you at Christmastime. And take pictures of everything, everyone, everywhere. When the New Year hits, take time to relax and go through them.
We need to remember, because these times and events take on meaning over the years. They stay with you—if you let them—and remind you of the important, the trivial, the events and people that weave in and out of your life and your own salvation story.
That group picture from the office Christmas lunch brings back laughter and good times spent with good people.
Those houses lit up all over town that suggest we’re celebrating an event together with people we’ve never met.
Who doesn’t feel the tingles on Christmas Eve singing “Silent Night” with fellow believers sharing the holy “otherness” of the story of the babe in the manger?
Those kids and grandkids and their smiles. Their unmitigated joy!
And, for me, it’s those rare times when the whole family is in town at Christmas and you have the chance—the rare and seemingly impossible chance—to get everyone in front of a camera at the same time. It can take some planning. Location? Beautiful outdoor setting? Check. Coordinating two sets of grandkids on different napping schedules? Check. Pray for decent temperature so everyone can shed the winter coats? Check. Attach balloons to the camera to get the attention of the little ones focused on the camera even when there’s no one standing there? Check. Take multiple shots so you catch the one time no one is blinking? Check.
And then for some reason associated with miracles and God’s grace, it works. And the memory ends up on the wall, where every time you walk past and notice it, you say a silent prayer of thanks to the One who set a small family off on an adventure that night in Bethlehem that changed the world.