Christmas Eve is a week from today. My creche is on the mantle, waiting for the small figure of the baby Jesus. My tree is in it's stand, waiting for the lights and ornaments that will make it sparkle like magic. I have a list of things to do to keep me busy... baking, wrapping, watching. Yet it feels almost empty this year.
My decorations sit in their boxes, waiting to be set out in their places. There is the beautiful nativity scene embraced by the wings of an angel, lit gently as a nightlight. The lovely Madonna figure crafted many years ago by my aunt that used to grace my Grandparent's house with her gentle presence each Christmas. The sweetly smiling Santa figure that my husband and I picked out our first Christmas that we were together. The angel with feathered wings. The glass ornaments. All of them are waiting patiently for me, sitting reproachfully in the boxes that fill up the space on the floor where I walk around them and carefully avoid looking at them.
I had planned to make lovely goody bags for friends and family this year filled with homemade candies and cookies. The list of what I am planning to make grows smaller and smaller as Christmas grows closer. My alternative plan is ready to go.
Instead, I sit on the couch and wait. I wait, along with my special decorations, along with Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and the Wise Men. I watch in the dark stillness of the night, wrapped in a nearly finished blanket and unable to sleep. I seek and hope that I am prepared when it breaks through.
I seek the joy, the light, the love of the season. My spirit is cold in me as I wait for the nights of joy that I pray are coming soon. This year it seems that my heart is duller in my breast, my spirit farther away from me, my energy sapped. I have heard myself say, more than once, that "Christmas is just another day this year" and I wonder at how it got this far.
So I press my face close to the spicy needles of my Christmas tree, inhaling the sharp aroma of the sap and rejoicing in the tickling of the branches against my skin. I light a candle to ward off the darkness, praying for the light to lighten my heavy heart. I play the music of the season; carols and ancient tunes sung by joyful voices, ballets played in tuneful splendor by orchestras, thoughtful musical meditations played on the organ. I pray that the music will wash away the slowness that is shadowing my every movement and weighing me down.
I seek out the beauty and I pray. I wait, I listen, and I yearn for that moment in time that is coming when a miracle is born in the darkness of an unknown night.