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Sacred Joy ~ By Cathi Spornick, www.ordinarytime-spornick.blogspot.com (Copyright 2012, Cathi Spornick, not to be reused without permission)
Snow had fallen softly all day that Christmas Eve, and the blanket that covered Philadelphia made even the most gnarly northeasterner smile. Street sounds throughout the city were muted, and inside we listened to Mitch Miller sing the holiday songs of 1963 that only he could deliver.
The tree was especially beautiful that year, or perhaps in my memory it must have been, since unknown to me at the time, it was the last Christmas our family had together. There was palatable joy in the house, and seeing my mother and father full of that joy made the world perfect for a six-year-old little girl.
Santa visited our home that evening, an unimaginable feat that he would take time from his very busy schedule to visit a little girl in a row house in Philadelphia, but there he stood in my living room in full color, including a slightly red nose. His eyes seemed blurry and not twinkling, but I chalked that up to the cold night outside. I later learned that the red nose was honestly earned by our neighbor who gladly dressed up as Santa on Christmas Eve each year for our block. He was Italian, and did enjoy a bit of Christmas vino throughout the day before visiting our homes.
I was given a quick hug and cautioned that I had better be in bed early if I wanted a visit. I raced up the stairs and into my new red and white flannel polka dot pajamas, and pulled the covers up to my nose. My father, who was a commercial milk truck driver, worked nights, even on Christmas Eve, and I listened closely for the hushed conversation of my mom and dad as they said good night and locks were drawn. My mother padded through the house quietly as if the snow had fallen inside as well. As she turned off the lights room by room, I could see the Christmas tree lights filter under my door and intersect with the moonlight from my window as though they sought each other out. I drifted to sleep knowing that when my father came home at daybreak, I would surely hear the turn of his key in the lock and the great festivities would begin.
That anticipation, hope, and joy that rested on me in 1963 is still with me as I ponder the glorious gift of God become Man. I have learned that all memories of this kind of joy and love are sacred even though they are not outwardly religious. They are not laden with nostalgic glimmer, but rather they are full of eternal hope, and a lovely shadowing of the eternal things to come.
All of heaven must have been full of the same anticipation that first Christmas Eve. All of mankind now yearns for that intimate knowledge of God and our childlike experiences and memories are to be embraced and nourished. They are a reflection of the glory that is ours as we experience the birth of Word become Flesh, the daily grace of the Spirit of Truth engraved on our hearts, and the magnificent love of a Father who has come home and turned the key in the lock. Rejoice and be glad! A Savior is born!
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