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The Joy of Christmas

A beloved memento helps her to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Credit: Catherine Lane
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Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalm 30:5

Each year as Christmas approaches, I take down a painting from our wall and replace it with a carefully framed strip of wrapping paper. Across the paper’s surface my father’s familiar scrawl declares, “Oh, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know.”

It was December 1983. My father had died the previous spring, and now Christmas was coming. I couldn’t imagine celebrating without him. Yet I had my family to consider, so one bleak night I began dragging out the decorations.

The long strip of paper was lining the bottom of the first box I opened. The year before, the paper had wrapped a large box filled with new boots for everyone in the family. Daddy had always believed we would have a white Christmas. He would buy boots, gloves, hats and insulated underwear to prepare us for the big snow. But it never came, and now he was gone. So I tucked away the paper scrap and carried on as best I could.

We made it through that Christmas and the year that followed. Then one day, I walked into a store and realized that the holidays were coming once again. Lights wound their way around the walls and up the escalator, and “White Christmas” played over the loudspeakers.

It was a funny place for an epiphany, the perfume aisle of a department store, but that’s where I first realized that although Daddy always anticipated a white Christmas, the absence of snow never seemed to disappoint him. It was never about snow; it was about joy! My daddy had always had a white Christmas!

I hurried from the store. There was a tree to buy, cookies to bake, and there were mittens, warm socks and scarves to buy.

So, all these years later, I straighten the frame and smile at my daddy’s happy scrawl. “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, Daddy,” I whisper, “just like the ones we used to know.”

Father, as we anticipate the birth of Your Son, let us know joy as lovely as snow falling fresh and clean.


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