The Joy of Christmas

Carol McLeod

Memories …

Memories are pieces of the past that become lodged in the deepest caverns of your heart.

Memories are meant to be treasured … and to be lovingly lingered over … day after day … year after year.

Some memories are treasured so deeply within one’s soul that not only are the facts of the moment catalogued in the annals of the brain … but somehow … some way … one’s heart is tied to that single event with intense and poignant feelings.

Such is the memory that I have of a December evening when I was only 6 years old …

I had attended kindergarten that winter morning in the one room schoolhouse that was just around the corner and up the street from the safe haven of my home.

That century old home housed my mom and dad … my older sister … a younger brother who loved to tease … a collie named Lassie … and a white cat named Tinkerbell.

It was a snowy, frigid day in Western New York, and I had spent the after-school hours sledding with my older sister and with the “redheads” from across the street.

My toes were nearly frostbitten from the time happily spent in the nearly arctic elements.

My mother, after removing my snow-caked outer garments at the door, handed me a fresh nightgown that had been warmed in the dryer.

She then placed me on top of our old-fashioned register where the heat came blazing up from the basement furnace.

I warmed my toes while listening to “The King Family Christmas” album that was being played on our record player.

I revolved around in a little girl circle while the heat found its way to warm my raw fingers and red nose.

When facing one direction, I saw the piano sitting in the corner of the oversized room …

In yet another direction, my view was of the dining room table bedecked for Christmas in true 1960’s fashion … complete with a Santa Claus tablecloth and a poinsettia plant …

As I slowly revolved in place, in the third direction was my parents’ bedroom filled with their over-sized canopy bed …

The fourth view that completed my slow rotation was seen through the front windows of my home and at the United States Post Office across the snow-covered street.

I remember that the snow was gently falling down around the little brown building which was truly no more than a glorified shack of mere governmental importance.

The postmaster, Mr. Hawley, had just the day before strung lights around the roof and windows of the US Post Office located directly across the street from my girlhood home.

My slow circle stopped the moment that I looked across the street at the obscure building.

As the King Family sang of city sidewalks, chestnuts roasting and finally about a Baby Boy, I stopped my miniature revolution … and just stared … transfixed at the beauty of the brown building surrounded by Christmas lights.

I remember placing my hand on my chest …

What I experienced on that snowy night was so unspeakably wonderful … and so simply grand … that my heart was squeezed with unseen yet very real pain.

I was mesmerized by the beauty of the ordinary dressed up for Christmas.

As I wiped the tears away from my no longer frozen cheeks, my mom walked into the room.

“Why, Carol!” she exclaimed.  “Why are you crying?  Are you not feeling well?”

I didn’t even realize until that moment that there were tears on my cheeks.  I responded,

“Mom … it’s all so beautiful.  It makes my heart hurt.”

The joy from my heart was leaking out of my eyes and down my innocent cheeks.

A little brown shingled building … decorated with Christmas lights … made my heart hurt.

And with repeating those words to you today … I can still feel the glorious pain all over again.

Christmas is so beautiful … so filled with wonder and glory … that it makes my heart hurt to this very day.

When Christmas lights up the ordinariness of my feeble attempt at life … the uncommon miracle paints a picture of stunning impact.

When viewed without the message of the manger, my life is truly just a shack of little significance and of certain obscurity.

However, when I dress my life in the majesty of the manger … it is then that I become the miracle that I was always made to be.

When I sing the song of Christmas … and join with the angels in all of their majesty … my heart lights up like the sky over Bethlehem that one extraordinary night.

When the human hut of my life is touched by the purpose of the manger and by the star that led the way to His dear presence … I realize why my heart aches for something more than this world offers.

Even now … the joy of Christmas is leaking out of my eyes. 

My childlike heart … although now over 6 decades old … hurts with the joy of it all.

Has the joy of Christmas changed you?  

Have you allowed the miracle of the manger to decorate the humdrum of your life?

My prayer for you this year is that you will take a moment out of the busyness …  and away from the craziness…  and observe ~ with no distractions ~ what the glory of Christmas is truly all about.

I hope that you will warm yourself with the joy of His presence.

I hope that you will hear the angels’ song and that your heart will constrict in sheer and hope-ridden pain.

I pray that you will have a moment when the joy of Christmas leaks out of your eyes and unto your face.

Your life was always meant to be more than a shack … or a hovel … or a hut of humanity.

Your life was meant to be the showplace of Christmas every day of every year.

Merry Christmas, my friends! Merry Christmas!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart, but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Used with permission from