Post by HOLLY NOEL
What Are You Hoping for This Christmas?
Have you ever wondered why Christmas has such a powerful effect on people?
What causes people to stand in the freezing cold for hours to purchase a gift? Is it really just about getting a deal or watching the excitement in a loved ones eyes, or is there something deeper going on?
Why are some of us putting up trees earlier each year or listening to Christmas music in October?
Whether it is excitement, dread or anger over the holiday, there is no denying Christmas evokes a range of strong emotions.
As I’ve thought about this, I think I may have gotten a little clarity as to why, but I will let you be the judge of that.
And I’ll get to that in a minute, because first I want to share a little bit of my story with you.
I was born on December 22 and my parents named me Holly Noel. I was brought home on Christmas Day in a stocking with a Santa hat on my head. I really had no choice but to love Christmas, or this could have been quite heartbreaking or embarrassing for my parents.
Obviously as you know now, my mother and father both loved Christmas. They both could decorate the prettiest tree you have ever seen, and every year my mother spent hours wrapping each gift meticulously with beautiful ribbon and handmade bows.
So Christmas has always been a big deal in my world.
You can imagine the look on this Christmas girl’s face when she saw the World’s Largest Christmas Store for the first time. I still get giddy 19 years later when we go around the bend and I see the chapel. I think most of us who have been to Bronner’s can attest to the fact it brings out the kid in each of us.
A few years ago we took my dad with us on our annual trip because he had never been there.
While we were in the store, he snuck away for a few minutes. When he came back, he was like a kid in a candy store (or shall I say Christmas store), and couldn’t wait to give me the gift he had made. It was a beautiful red ornament that lit up and he had it personalized with my birthday and this inscription: My Angel, Holly Noel.
The next part of the story is the part I wish I didn’t have to tell you.
A couple of years ago my father passed away and Christmas, as you can imagine, has not been the same.
The first two years were so hard I wondered if I would ever be able to find the joy I once had in the season.
During our most recent trip to Bronner’s, as I walked through the store looking at all the twinkling lights, I began to hum my favorite song, “O Holy Night.”
As I got to my favorite line, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,” it hit me why Christmas has such a powerful effect on so many of us.
It’s the thrill of hope.
The night Christ was born God announced His hope to the world.
And the writer who penned the song knew exactly what he was talking about. Is there anything more thrilling than hope to our weary souls?
Now, add to the thrill of the hope the thrills of Christmas. The beauty of Christmas with the traditions, the colors, the magic, the parties.
And as our world gets harder and scarier, and as our need for hope is rising, we are grasping for the thrills much earlier and with more intensity.
But this is the part where we as humans lose our focus.
We get so caught up in the experiences and thrills of Christmas, we put the gift of hope underneath all the other packages and then wonder on Christmas Day if we missed it.
This year when I hung my dad’s ornament on the tree, I realized I could grieve but still have the joy Christmas has always given to me. Because what I realized is my hope is not found in a day, but a Savior.
If you and I bring into Christmas expectations for a perfect day with perfect circumstances, we will be sorely disappointed. But if we place our hope in a perfect Savior, that changes everything.
When my hubby and I left Bronner’s that night, I took a picture of this gorgeous hand-painted angel they have on one of their outside windows.
I stood there staring at it for a few minutes, and I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to picture the night our Lord was born. I imagined what the angels’ voices must have sounded like as they gloriously sang:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
May we join them in their singing, my friends, and bow down in adoration to Immanuel, Christ our King.
May we have fun decking our halls, give to others and enjoy the season – but let’s not forget what our hearts are truly seeking is something we already have:
a Savior who came to rescue and save us all.
Holly is a wife, mother, blogger and speaker. She has written for various publications and has a Christmas series every year on her blog called Deck Your Halls & Hearts with Holly. You can find her at HollyNoelHaynes.com and also on her author page on Facebook.