For children, Christmas time is Wonder Land. It’s all bigger than life; full of excitement, anticipation, joy, and fantasy—toys and candy, laughter and love. For the Christian child, he is smothered with affection. All is calm, all is bright! The story of the baby Jesus is lovely and assuring; new life and new hope.
As we grow older, our childhood vision shifts to new horizons; new dreams and expectations. At some point our affections are cast in a new direction to that special person with whom we desire to spend our Christmases snuggled together by the family hearth. We imagine our lives intertwined and see a future of many happy Christmases together. We are full of dreams and plans, of grand accomplishments and successes, many of which never come to pass. Instead, unexpected accomplishments and successes filled their place alongside the disappointments.
As time marches on, Christmas becomes a time of remembrance, a milestone of life where we pause to reflect and mark time by the birthday of Christ. We are tempted to have regrets over things that never were, or that have now come and gone. They seem to be a part of some ancient dream which we now see more dimly. What has it meant and has it been worth all the toil and tears; that journey from Wonderland to what we call reality?
Upon reflection, we discover that even the failures and unachieved goals of our youth turn out to be the hand of God that taught us lessons we could not have otherwise learned. And thus, we should be more thankful for the kind providences of God, especially as we consider all those who gather with us for Christmas; our parents and children and siblings and spouses who now sit with us on Christmas and form the circle of our lives.
We can still aspire and dream, for we still live, and shall, moreover, continue in our children; our hopes for the future are seen in them. Those bright and honest eyes remind us; their childish delight helps us recall the simple pleasures, and for a moment we cannot hear the march of time. Their joy and contentment confirms our long labors. New hopes are born in them and they too will bring forth new homes and children who have not yet appeared, but are already known by God.
Today, we also remember those who have preceded us: grandparents, parents, and friends. They live in the City of God in the presence of the One whose birth we celebrate; Who is also present with us. He has promised to reunite us forever. And so, we recall the good gift they were to us while here, and look for the ultimate Christmas when we shall all gather and none are absent. We hold them in our hearts, as their immortality rest in the immortality of Christ the Lord!