You know those TV shows where someone is falling to their death from an 18-story building and their "whole life flashes before their eyes"? I think Christmas is a lot like that.
Okay, not the death part. The last part. Where your life flashes before you.
Last night I was sitting in our family room looking at our Christmas tree. I carefully eyed every ornament - each one precious in its own right.
The ones that depict something significant for each year of our children's lives. The ones those same children worked tirelessly on in school, leaving their classroom floors dotted with glue and glitter - and my tree shimmering.
The ones from friends old and new. The silly ones, the sentimental ones, and even some shiny, store-bought ones that have no attached meaning at all other than at some point I wanted my tree to be made up of more than just popsicle sticks and construction paper.
But soon my gaze catches one particular ornament - a framed picture of my two oldest children as mere babies, donning their adorable Christmas duds.
And it begins.
That "life flashing" stuff. Because it has gone fa la la la la faaaast.
Go ahead, let the dreamy, taking-you-back-in-time music from sitcoms play in your head...
I'm in my childhood home, racing from room to room because my older sisters are convincing me Santa and his reindeer were flying around just outside our house - if I could just get to the right window fast enough I would see them. UGH! The speedy crew eluded me constantly!
The year I begged incessantly for a good 10 months for a Ziggy doll. (I did get it!)
The Christmas treats that my mother spread through the kitchen in red, white and green ceramic dishes pulled out for only this occasion.
Of course, there's the traditional park-it-in-front-of-the-TV-every-Friday-night to watch Rudolph, Frosty or It's a Wonderful Life. It's fun to watch those with my own kids now, and how funny it is to see how far technology and cinematography have come over the years!
Fast forward to the traditions I've made with my own family:
Gingerbread houses, adding a new Christmas book to our annual collection, ornaments, baking, and snapping photos to capture a slice of time.
But no matter how much I miss those chubby cheeks and that wispy baby hair, the photo ornament on my tree is still just a reminder of one Christmas in the midst of many.
And not the most important one.
Remember the first Christmas. That was no slice of time. That was the start of eternity.
A young woman, her husband and a tiny baby. In a barn, mind you.
But in that stinky barn was the best news ever. The news of Christmas.
Because from childhood to adulthood to parenthood and beyond, Christmas - at its very core - is very simple.
Now you're probably thinking, "SIMPLE!? Then you haven't seen my neighbor's light display! Or the flurry of activity down at the mall!"
For just a moment, forget about the doorbuster deals, how you'll avoid your drunk boss at the office party, and that you just ran out of scotch tape.
Step into your family room and look at your tree.
Go ahead, find it.
Find that one ornament.
That sends you...