Peace at Christmas can mean a lot of different things to each of us.
A Facebook posting from a high school classmate this week asked the question of her friends, What was at the top of our prayer list these days? I noticed that more than half the answers that came back mentioned peace in some way or another.
Most of these people were concerned about peace in their lives, in their families, in their jobs and in their finances and most importantly with their God.
A lot of us in our holiday rush feel stress instead of the inner peace that refreshes our spirit and bodies. My wife said a memory of peace at Christmas was hard to come by because she worked in a family retail business so many years. There was a lot of financial pressure associated with the holiday for her that didn’t disappear with a much-needed day off.
I’m guilty, but as I get older it’s less about the preparation and more about the moment. I can pull a few peaceful Christmas memories up in my memory banks and they’re treasures to me.
My wife and I were engaged at Christmastime in 1981. There were some nervous moments that year but some really satisfying and peaceful ones too. Cuddling with her under the Christmas tree in her apartment is one of those.
When we were first married for years we always took a Christmas Eve walk together. After the walk we either shared a glass of wine or a cup of hot chocolate.
Way back in my childhood I remember my family decorating the Christmas tree together and turning the living room lights off to admire our work of blinking Christmas lights and tinsel icicles. We were all together on the floor in a pile. It is a peaceful if somewhat fragmented memory.
One year while living in western Colorado my wife and I took a drive Christmas Day after a snowfall. We tracked up to the little village of Marble, Colo., and as we dropped into the bare aspen grove surrounding the town we began noticing that there were elk everywhere amid the chunks of cast-off marble and sparse snow-laden spruce trees. The majestic animals weren’t concerned at all that we chose that moment to drive through their living Christmas card.
My wife and sister both remember visiting Redstone, Colo., another village near where we lived a few weeks before Christmas. Hot chocolate and a bonfire made it warm and Christmas carols and friendly folks made it peaceful.
Probably the most peaceful Christmas experience for me was a living Nativity put on by a local church one year. As a reporter I’ve covered a lot of these things over the years but this one was special. It had been set up in an open-air barn on a working ranch near town.
The barn and the atmosphere was perfect, just like the place put in our mind’s eye. The Christmas Story was read, the animals and children involved were calm, quiet and well behaved and the temperature was close to zero.
We all knew it was really cold but we didn’t care, the moment was so powerful. I think it may have been a lot like that when peace reigned at the birth of our savior Jesus.
My Christmas prayer to all is that you enjoy that type of peace somewhere, somehow this season.