by Regional Editor Nora Edinger
Someone recently asked me to describe my best Christmas ever. I couldn't do it.
I mentally scanned over the past 35 years and could think of plenty of good times and a few really lousy times. But there was nothing like the stories that often appear in women's magazines.
It made me wonder if God ever meant for us to have the perfect Christmas that so many people try to buy or bustle their way to each year.
After all, the first one was built with life's most ordinary things. There's childbirth, travel fatigue, overwhelming crowds, an inconsiderate innkeeper, farm animals, a feeding trough and big government.
There's not much tinsel.
And, oddly, none of the characters in this eternal drama knew the whole story. The shepherds heard the angel chorus. Mary and Joseph had first-person understanding of Jesus' paternity. The traveling kings saw the star.
No player had a copy of the entire script. Yet it worked.
That's the way it's worked in our family Christmases, too. We've seen a glimpse of glory each year.
There's the childhood joy. For me, the top of the list had to be a toy typewriter and a sled, both received the same year. What was it for you -- Pong, Twister, Hot Wheels, a china doll?
There's the romance. For us, a Christmas with California family was special. We ate Mexican and watched whales. What special date do you remember? Did he pop the question this time of year? Did you share a holiday birth?
There's the sorrow. Almost every family in the nation is remembering a death or lost relationship this month. Some will be sick. Others will be exhausted to the point of anxiety. Have you been there?
There's the wacky. I can think of the drive-through Nativity (honk if you love baby Jesus), the live Nativity in which the camel and the sheep had words, the motion lights that somehow synchronized with our caroling. What have you seen?
There's the traditional but often unappreciated. Grandma's fruit breads have always been here. Now that she's 95, the grandchildren are making them. What about your family?
There's the magical. Year after year, the bathrobes present at so many church pageants turn into something better than Broadway. Have you seen them sparkle?
It's never all there any one year, but there's a beam of glory here and there. And, by the end of a lifetime, our memories should be filled with enough radiant light to follow.
I plan to look for those fleeting rays a little more carefully this year because, as we've been reminded, life is short.
And, when I find them, I hope I remember what to do -- rejoice with exceeding great joy.