25 Songs of Christmas: Dec 14 – Grown Up Christmas List
As soon as I started this holiday season, struggling with the pain and the sadness and the deep yearning for more peace, I knew this song would make an appearance on this year’s list. It’s so beautiful, and it captures so much of what I want for the world right now. “No more lives torn apart, that wars would never start, and time would heal all hearts. Everyone would have a friend, and right would always win, and love would never end.”
Those gifts are so much harder to come by than the toys and shiny things children wish for. These are no concepts for children. It’s just easier for kids to wrap their heads around the idea of a new video game or Elsa doll. My Sunday school students understand those kinds of things. They don’t understand the things I have talked about in these holiday blogs. They don’t understand how rare the peace and joy of Christmas really are. They don’t see goodwill toward all as some radical message. They don’t understand that the end of war would take a modern-day miracle.
When I was a child, I thought like a child. My faith was simple, but as I became an adult I put away childish things, including the surface level understanding of the Christmas story. They see an exotic journey where I see the hand of an oppressive government. They see a warm stable where I see poverty. They see camels and donkeys and a kind innkeeper where I see the harsh realities of people living on the margins of society being turned away once more. And yet as I helped our church children prepare for their Christmas play, I realized I wouldn’t trade their understanding of Christmas for anything.
Today I held our youngest nursery child (in his sheep costume) tightly to my chest. I pressed my lips to his sweet head and prayed that no one would ever discriminate against him for the color of his skin, that he would never go hungry, that he would never go to war or come to harm in any of the other ways I fear for our children these days. Then I set him down and watched him toddle off shouting “baaa” at the kids playing shepherds. As I watched them play, I realized that as I look at the Christmas story and see the evidence of all the things in the world that call out for a savior, those children see only that The Savior has arrived. It’s not that they don’t get the true meaning of Christmas. They get it better than I do. They get the holiday, and they get the message. These children still live in eternal hope and joy. The idea of ending wars and loving neighbors, and lives always being whole and full are not great miracles for them or impossible dreams. They are real, honest gifts they see all around them. Each and every one of them feels that if they listen and pray and sing and circle around that manger they will always have all the things we adults only dare to put on our grown-up Christmas lists. And I can’t help but think that they may be right.
What if as we grew we didn’t learn the true meaning of Christmas. What if somewhere along the way we unlearned it?
Maybe it really is like the song says: What is this illusion called the innocence of youth? Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth.