How I Rediscover Christmas Joy

Every year I find it harder and harder to focus my thoughts on the reason for this season. It is about Jesus. Right? At least that’s how I remember it from when I was a kid.

I went to a Catholic elementary school called St. Paul’s in Jersey City, New Jersey. It was populated with kids, like me, whose fathers worked blue collar jobs. We never really dreamed big. We all had one present in mind. And I remember always receiving it. Life was simple.

The Dominican nuns spent every day reminding us it was all about Jesus. We had Christmas projects, Christmas plays, and Christmas church. Lots of church. We all loved it. Every minute of it. It was a time filled with hope and anticipation. Jesus was coming! And then we would have two weeks off school. But what have I brought to my family from that experience?

Through a Child’s Eyes

Christmas has become buying gifts, holiday parties, and finishing the year strong in business. It is a time of year when we have the first two weeks to close deals and the last two weeks to touch our families.

The hope and anticipation seems to have disappeared. But then something happens.

My daughter reminds me I haven’t seen my grandchildren for ten days. Julia said, “Come by and see Christmas through the eyes of little Charles. Visit with him, and let him show you everything he sees.”

One of my most precious memories was reading a story to my daughter, Lisa, from Leo Buscaglia’s book Seven Stories of Christmas Love.

Reminder of God’s Gift

On Christmas Eve after church and dinner and opening our Christmas pajamas, I would read to my little Lisa.

She was six years old, tiny, spindly, blonde, and sweet as can be. She was all excited to hear the Ravioli story, and I was excited to read it. I remember the soft light of the room, the smell of the extinguished dinner candles, the scent of the Christmas tree, and the twinkle of excitement in Lisa’s eyes as she snuggled under the covers.

The story was about Leo as a child bringing his mom’s ravioli as a Christmas present to a librarian he adored. When I got to the good part, the part where the power of gift giving is exposed, I always teared up. I tried to hide it from Lisa, but I know she knew this part was always going to get me.

Seeing Christmas Afresh

A few minutes ago, I reread Leo’s A Gift of Ravioli. I experienced nothing, not even a twinge of emotion. That’s when I realized what made the time with Lisa special was seeing Christmas through her eyes when she was six.

The hope and anticipation of Christmas resurfaced in those few minutes we had together. It worked every time. I know someday Lisa will be reading the ravioli story to her child. And she, too, will remember the reason for Christmas.

Thanks, Julia, for always giving me great advice. I can’t wait to see Christmas through Charles’ eyes!

Merry Christmas!

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6 thoughts on “How I Rediscover Christmas Joy

  1. Our five kids would make a fort out of blankets and all sleep together in it on Christmas Eve. Their excitement and wonder made it such a magical event – one we always looked forward to.

  2. Nice piece, Charlie. After 16+ years in Catholic schools, Christmas today is a much different experience. Spending time with children helps purge our cynical, Scrooge instincts. Enjoy!

    • Thanks for sharing, Larry. Our new reflex is in Christ. We are filled with the Holy Spirit. Our children can see it in our eyes. Happy New Year!

  3. Thanks for sharing Charlie. Every year I fell myself being raised higher and higher in my responsibilty, my duty, and my honor to my earthly family. Not only do we all need to embrace it, we need to ensure these values and deep beliefs that are Christmas be handed down to the younger generations. It’s a blessing to have the tools as a parent, a leader and a mentor to make such fire t impacts! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

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