The Christmas Box

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      THE CHRISTMAS BOX

                    1964

It was just an old packing crate, a wooden box scarred with age. But to the eyes and mind of a small child, it held all the magical wonder that Christmas could possibly possess. The box was so big that even on “tippy toes” I was barely able to peek over the edge to see inside. And, oh, what treasures were contained therein: a seemingly endless stream of trinkets and memories to refashion our home’s seasonal décor. Mary Poppins couldn’t pull more out of that box, even if she tried. Each item was retrieved and lovingly placed about the house deep in Christmas transformation. Bells, baubles, tinsel and greens abounded. And even if it held no ornament, the essence of Christmas would permeate each room, each corner and crevice of the house. The very air itself caused you to breathe and exhale that holy season.

For many, the day after Thanksgiving began four weeks of shopping and preparation, hustle and bustle. It’s funny how our family never thought it odd that the Christmas box didn’t make its annual pilgrimage out of the attic until December 24th. The world around us was in a holiday frenzy, but patiently (as patiently as three young children could be so close to Christmas) we waited for that special day.

Santa himself was probably the only one on earth busier than our family on Christmas Eve as the whirlwind began. The tree was brought in and bedecked in its finery. Delicate glass ornaments wrapped in tissue were carefully unrolled; each one opened in awe as if it were a gift. And for the joy they brought, they truly were. Once unfurled amid shouts of, “Look what I found!” or “Oh, I remember that one,” each decoration would then find its rightful place of honor. Hidden somewhere in the myriad of smaller cartons pulled from the crate would be the special faux stained glass panels, which converted our front windows into works of art depicting the nativity. The last lights of day streaming through the panes would offer shadows of a great cathedral to anyone with an imagination.

So it was that year after year the joyful holiday ritual was repeated. Then time marched forward. And I grew older and the box grew smaller. I was amazed upon returning to my parent’s home after some time away to discover just how small the Christmas box actually was, a packing crate after all, holding the infinite wonder of a child.

Although my youthful days are behind me now, I still look for the magic of Christmas. But these days, as a woman of faith, I search for it not in the Christmas box of my childhood but rather in the small stable of Bethlehem. For like the box, it too, held something much larger than itself. Magic was the gift of the Christmas box, but life is the gift found in a stable.

A blessed Christmas to all.

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