There is something wondrous about Christmas. Not so wondrous for those of us who have pushed past the halfway mark of life. Yet, it is wondrous for kids, and somehow we can remember the wonder. That's probably why we go to so much trouble to make the event special for the children in our families. We overspend on food and presents, usually by a factor of three at least. Even before the main meal is set before me, I have usually filled up on chocolate coated nuts. Christmas dinner would be easy for me. A bowl and $4 worth of choc nuts and I'm set for the day. Still, all the suggestions that we should limit the presents to one main one and limit the food to what can be comfortably eat in an hour, are set aside in the search for a childhood memory - the wonder of it all.
The wonder is easily brought to mind. It can be an image, smell or sound. For me it is a sound, a sound I grew up with. As a child growing up, I always listened for the Salvation Army band that would play early on Christmas morning. Every Christmas the band moved around the district playing Christmas carols. It started as a distant sound wafting on the wind, and then ended up crisp and clear as the band assembled at the park near our home. This then was the sound of Christmas for me. In the midst of the frantic opening of presents, the testing out of Mechano, Hornby Double O trains, bike, etc. (not all in one year of course - you know, only one big present per year), there in the background was the sounds of a brass band playing Christmas carols.
As I remember the wonder of it all I think how devoted those blokes must have been to get out on a Christmas morning to play carols. While others were either at home sharing the wonder, or at church celebrating the wonder, there were these kind men blowing away for kids like me. Maybe that was their church, and when you think about it, what a great way to do church. There they were standing under the trees at the park on a Christmas morning celebrating the birth of Jesus. If all we ever did at Christmas was sing Christmas carols we would certainly not be the less for it. Most of the carols are powerful gospel proclamations. They do get a bit overdone and so their impact is easily lost. Yet, the message is there for us to take hold of if we are in any way searching for God.
"Of his love and mercy mild, This the Christmas Story: And, O that Mary's gently Child, Might lead us up to glory!" Such wonder!