“The Spirits of Christmas”
It was December 24th, 2010.
Everything was ready. The tree was fully decorated, and the lights were glowing brightly, the presents were wrapped and tucked underneath it, right next to the antique miniature barn that held baby Jesus, His parents, and the wise men bearing gifts. Even our house was outlined in icicle lights, and the illuminated sign that said PEACE, with a lighted dove next to it could be seen by anyone who drove by.
But something wasn’t right, something still did not feel right, yet again.
This was not the first Christmas that our family felt this; for the past six or more Christmases had been tainted by these same emotions.
Christmas had become known in my family, as a tension-filled mine field, where at least someone (often more,) in our family started a fight with each other, over something small and trivial, and it would get blown all out of proportion. There were two Christmases that my husband stormed out of the house, not even saying when or if he would return. Usually, it was the kids that broke down and fought with each other, often over who got to open up the next present. There were the usual whines from those who never seemed quite satisfied with whatever had been gifted to them.
This was all very odd behavior from my family; in our every-day-lives we usually got along well enough and were very thankful for anything that was given to us.
I was determined that this Christmas would be different.
All of us noted that familiar feeling, of something not being quite right, so we stood in a circle, read some scripture out loud, and then prayed that we would have a peace-filled evening.
But once again, the fighting broke out among our children, this time under their mumbled breaths, (thinking if they were quiet enough we would not hear them,) so I immediately called a time-out, and went into the bedroom to pray.
“We can stop this right now, Lord!” I said to my God. “We don’t have to open up the gifts. If You want us to walk away from all this, just say the word, and we will!”
I stood there, under the cross, waiting for some kind of revelation or word to come from Him. But instead of addressing my words, He had me read Psalm 91, and after several moments it did finally have its usual calming effect upon me. He then told me to go back out to where the family was still waiting. This confused me, for I felt as if nothing had really been resolved. But still He nudged me to go back out into the living room. So before I got up to go, I told Him yet again, “Whatever you want us to do, we will do…”
The moment I walked back out into the room, one of my kids came up to me and boldly spoke.
“Mom,” this child said, “Jesus told me that we need to turn off all the lights.”
I frowned. “ALL the lights?” (This seemed odd; why would God want us in complete darkness?)
“No,” this child responded, “He said to turn off all the Christmas lights, even the outside ones, and then cast out the spirits of Christmas.”
Ah. Then I understood.
During our research on the history of Christmas, we learned that the pagan Druids would put lights in their window sills, in the hopes that as the spirits flew above them over the land during the winter solstice of Dec. 21st to the 26th, they would see the lights below and know that they were welcome in that home.
So we went and turned off all the holiday lights on our property, inside and out, and then came back to gather in the living room.
Everything seemed dull now, without the glitter and sparkle of the Christmas tree lights. It felt like even the holiday itself was pausing, waiting to see what we would do next.
We held each others hands, and then together we cast out the spirits of Christmas in Jesus name.
We then sat back down, and my husband and I began discussing the question of who would open up the first present. We then bravely decided to let the children decide.
To everyone’s amazement, they all quickly agreed. My first born son would get to open up the first present!
This son was greatly surprised. NEVER had he ever gone first in opening up the first one! Usually he vied so hard for that first place position that he usually ended up going last.
And so went the rest of the night. Cooperation, helpfulness, thankfulness, and patience re-formed the evening. No fighting or arguing broke out, and we were able to enjoy watching each other open up the gifts. No rushing, no tension, no me me me me.
All during the winter solstice, when we put on the Christmas lights, (any of them,) ill will would re-surface, and we would once again have to resort to turning off all the Christmas lights, and casting out those spirits of Christmas.
In the end, we realized that it was a price we were willing to pay. In giving up those Christmas lights, we found the PEACE that we had been longing for.
Thank you Jesus Christ of Nazareth for answering our prayers!
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