What is Christmas?

If you were to describe it in one word, what would it be?

Perhaps you’ve done this exercise before and have come up with a word that reflects your feelings during this time of the year.

Some of you may use words like family, as you anticipate gathering with others, while some you may only see this time of the year, while others might use the word food. After all, some of the best recipes make their way into the kitchen at Christmas.

Words like busy, hectic, crazy or frantic might be used by a few simply because they know there are so many places to be, things to see and tasks to accomplish, and by the time the day finally arrives they are so exhausted all they can do is collapse in a heap.

This time of season is not always a positive one for some, as it conjures up memories that can be hard to remember. Christmas can be a time of loneliness, heartache and pain for some.

A small group of you may even use the word offensive to describe Christmas, because it is far t0o narrow of a perspective. This holiday season does include other festive celebrations, too.

The Sunday school answer may be shared at Christmas as we use words like peace, hope, joy or love talking about the baby Jesus, Bethlehem and the story of the entrance of the Messiah into the world.

For me, there are plenty of words I could use to describe what I feel about Christmas, and a few of them I have already mentioned.

I would also include blessing in that list, as well as rest (I don’t do any cooking and have very little shopping to do each year), excitement and happiness.

However, the one word I have found this year that I think not only applies to my thoughts of Christmas, but it is one that I believe has become a much bigger point of view kind of word to describe all that this life has to give.

That word is wonder.

Wonder is defined as “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable.”

Most of the time when we use the word wonder it is in its verb form, as in “I wonder if Troy really has a point or is he just trying to fill this space.”

I recently read a book that really opened my eyes to what is that sense of wonder, and I really think, when I stop for a moment, that wonder is something we ought to be doing more. Wonder causes us to stop and contemplate, to look around and recognize there are some pretty amazing things that are happening.

That, for me, is particularly true at Christmas.

For example, I am in wonder of Christmas lights. I come to work pretty early in the morning, which means it is still dark out. My drive into town from the west means a turn up the Y-intersection and past Second Street. Every morning as I come up the hill and see the trees lit up on that street it puts a smile on my face.

That is wonder.

Each Dec. 24 for the past quarter of a century I have celebrated the fact that my best half still wants to spend time with me. This coming Tuesday is our 26th anniversary. As I look back I am in awe and wonder knowing how lucky I am to have Kelly in my life. 

I feel that sense of wonder each time I hear a child sing a Christmas carol, share some of the Christmas story in the Bible or talk about just how much they love it when they experience something new during the holiday.

I still love opening Christmas presents and watching others (especially my own kids) open gifts. I know I have shared this before, but I think for me when it comes to gifts the greatest sense of wonder comes when I put that brand new pair of socks on for the first time. (At this point a few of you may be wondering something else about me.)

I feel that sense of wonder each time one of you stops me and shares how you appreciated something I wrote. I think the wonder really comes as I think about the fact that you all still read the drivel that comes from my brain and shoots through my fingertips.

Christmas is truly a time for wonder. I want to encourage all of you to take the time to be in wonder this Christmas.

There are so many miracles that have happened which make the true story of this season a reality. Find that wonder as you read the Christmas story in the words of Matthew and Luke, or hear them this coming Tuesday or Wednesday at a local Christmas worship service.

It is my hope that you enjoy time with family and friends this Christmas.

Don’t get too caught up in the things that don’t matter.

Take the time to just sit back, breathe in, open your eyes and look at Christmas as if you are doing it for the very first time.

Just don’t forget to check the cookies in the oven.

After all, others with that same sense of wonder are counting on you.