Jordan was sitting on the park bench right by the bike trail, when a boy about 5 years old sat down and started winding what appeared to be his own very special Mickey Mouse watch. Jordan said, “What a neat watch! Does it tell you the time?”
Without even looking up the boy responded, “No, you gotta look at it.”
This is the season of rush, not the talk radio guy, the packing of our days with too much stuff for our time. We wind our days too tight, hurried, stretched, and frazzled, while conveniently losing track of our moments. The boy is right–to get the most out of our time we’ve go to stop and look at it.
From the moment we wake up, we’re driving the fast lane, moving from appointment to appointment with a great sense of accomplishment but little appreciation. We hurry through food without thought of conversation. The rich layers of generations and traditions and friendships are marked with cards and newsletters, but carelessly overlooked. We smile for the pictures while stretching our necks and sucking in our guts, trying to look younger and thinner then we are. We don’t want to look like we’ve missed the point of the season, even if we have.
When events do bring us together we don’t know what to do. We eat, watch TV, play video games, stick earbuds in and headphones on our ears, text friends and family members in the same room.
Don’t settle for watching someone else’s memories on TV or reading about them on Facebook. Stop for a moment and let your mind meander through the layers of life in the moment. Look for surprises and wonder. Listen for hidden joys and fresh insight.
If you want to experience the moment, to enjoy all the layers of the season, do more than pose for pictures. Invite grandparents and great-grandparents to talk about Christmas when they were a children. Relax and listen for the layers of memories. You will hear the spirit of Christmas.
Everyone has a story at Christmas.
It happened when Logan was in the second grade. He and his Grandma were Christmas shopping in the mall. He loved going to the Mall with Grandma, she let him wander around and see the things he wanted to see. She always seemed to have more time than everyone else.
They stopped for a moment in the food court. What a surprise adventure! All he knew about the food court was built on dire warnings from the past. “No, we don’t have time.” “It takes too long.” “We didn’t come to the Mall to spend our time at the food court, we’ll eat when we get home.” After all that, Logan assumed that somehow the food court was a time wormhole—it sucked time into some mysterious and invisible dark forbidden zone. But grandma wanted to invade the mystery. WOW!
Logan picked a table under one of those giant Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling. It was a perfect day. He was with his grandma, in the food court, eating one of those great gooey cookies, drinking a fruit smoothy, and telling grandma what his mom and dad do when they think he’s not looking.
Then out of the blue, the kid sitting at the table next to them had a melt down. He yelled out, “No, I don’t want that! No!” For the next several minutes Logan stared intently at this youngster, watching him throw an all-star, hissy fit. The kid warmed up slowly, bawling and whining and stomping his feet. Then, he broke out into a full-fledged screaming tirade.
When the kid stopped to take a breath, Logan took a bite of his cookie and wondered if this was why his mom never wanted to stop at the food court? Then, without warning Logan’s grandma reached into her purse, took out her pen and a strange little black book.
She leaned over close to the “melt-down” boy and asked, “Can you tell me you name?”
The kid looked at her through his still tear-filled eyes and proudly yelled, “Matt.”
Grandma opened her black book and carefully wrote down “M-a-t-t.”
“Melt-down boy” watched her write and then asked, “Who are you?”
“I’m in Santa‘s Secret Service,” Grandma said, “I’m taking the names of children who are being mean and ugly. Now, what’s your last name?”
“No, I’ll be good. I promise,” he protested. “I’m sorry, I’ll be good. I mean it. I’ll be good.”
Logan and grandma got up to leave. While Logan took the last bite of his cookie, grandma, smiled at that boy’s mother and slipped her black book back in her purse.
Logan and grandma had a great day at the Mall. Grandma spent most of her time listening to Logan’s wonderings. It was a day locked in memory. Although they never talked about the “melt-down” boy, Logan was never quite sure that his Grandma was kidding about working for Santa’s Secret Service.
So, to be on the safe side he was especially good around her all year.
People of all ages bring layers of life to your Christmas celebrations. That is especially true about fingerprints of God moments. These shared layers shape us. So, make sure you stop and listen to the stories of past Christmases and write the stories of this one.
The following questions are simple, but powerful. They unlock layers of life that long to be remembered and retold. There is a deep-rooted longing to connect to the spirit of the season, so assume your guests share this desire and be the story.
- What was Christmas like when you were a kid?
- What was your most extraordinary Christmas?
- What Christmas memory transformed you into a giver?
- What person do you like to be around on Christmas?
- What could we do to make this Christmas extraordinary?