Every year, for the past two decades, the Christmas spirit has settled upon me at various, unexpected moments. I never know when or how it will be ushered in. Last year, it came like this. The year before, like this.
Sometimes the falling snow is key. Sometimes it’s a song, like when my friend Helen sang the angels down at Joshua Baptist Church years ago. Sometimes it’s Charlie Brown.
This year, it was a late afternoon realization that slightly inclement weather – i.e. some wet snow – caused the cancellation of the evening’s planned activities. Miraculously, all of us were going to be home on Saturday evening.
Sarah and I were driving home from Richmond – in the snow – when the call came. We decided to make a detour and pick up a tree. After some discussion, we thought we could get away with an artificial tree this year; after all, we’re overwhelmingly busy. Nobody was going to go out to cut a tree in this weather, although that’s been a fine tradition. We called the house, told the other kids to get the stuff out of the attic and get ready – that we were getting an artificial tree on the way home.
Shannon was adamant. “This is just WRONG!” she exclaimed.
Then I called Tony to fill him in on our plans. “NO WAY!” he exclaimed.
We had two very virulent protesters of our plan – not the decorating, but the artificial part.
So, we relented. By the time we got home, Tony had a real tree in the house and we had the makings of a good dinner in hand. We spent a few hours getting the decorations up. Harry Connick sang us through, with both his recent Christmas records. Syd put the star on the tree. A good time was had by all.
Traditions are so powerful. They bind us to who we were, and give us insight into who we are yet to be. Last night was special, and provided another opportunity for buckets of grace-filled memories.
And the Christmas spirit? It landed hard all around us, as Sarah and I walked through the drizzling snow in the Lowe’s parking lot, singing “Winter Wonderland”.
Merry Christmas, y’all.