In the last few days, I've really felt an outpouring of the Spirit in my heart. I witnessed the kindness of others, and it has really touched me multiple times over the last two days. It's like Christmas just showed up at our door one day, making all of the preparations that we've done all month long totally worth it, because they put our hearts in a good, calm, peaceful, receptive state.
In our family, we have a tradition. I call it "Letting the Christ-child in." I do not know where the tradition came from or if it is practiced in other cultures, but it is special. First let me explain that we actually wake up at midnight Christmas Eve to open all of our gifts, because that is when Santa comes to our house. I am assuming that this tradition has its roots in midnight mass or Christmas Eve church services somewhere along the lines, although my mother tells me it is an English tradition passed down by her grandparents.
Before we open our gifts around midnight Christmas Eve, we open our home to figuratively welcome the Christ child in. I have fond memories of one parent standing at the back door of our house and the other parent (with children racing behind them) scurrying to open the front door. Simultaneously, both doors are opened, allowing a crisp winter breeze to sweep through the house. As a child, I remember imagining a young Christ-child wandering through the house for that brief, thrilling, magical moment.
After we have let the Christ child in, we begin our celebrating, gift-giving, and partaking of party food! I am thankful for the Christmas season, and for the gift of good family traditions that help us learn about, celebrate, and center our lives on the Savior. I hope that you will experience His presence and love where ever you are this Christmas.
Update: Here is an addendum about the origin of this tradition from my Mother. She says, "My maternal grandparents, being British, were members of the Church of England, Anglican or Episcopalian, I'm guessing (I ought to look that up to be sure). They had a very late church service on Christmas eve and afterward, as a family they would walk home, singing carols as they went. Arriving just about midnight, they let in the Christ child as they re-entered their home and then opened gifts. My grandmother would often rehearse this part of her family history with us." Thanks, Mom!