Each year as Christmas approaches, I find myself becoming quite nostalgic. Maybe it’s the combination of enjoying our two small children, but missing those special relatives that have already passed. And maybe a little comes from that child-like feeling I experience on Christmas Eve—because I just can’t sleep either! Whatever the reason, it’s fun to think back over the ages and stages of life—and how we experience Christmas.
Babies Love Lights
Newborns or small babies aren’t really interested in gifts and food and going places at Christmas. In fact, most are a little scared of Santa. But they do like lights. One of the sweetest memories I have with my babies at Christmas time is rocking in our chair in the den, just looking at the lights. You give a baby a warm blanket, loving arms, soft music, and some Christmas lights, and you’ve got one happy baby. Granted, babies get a LOT of gifts—especially if they are the FIRST grandchild–but the baby will most likely be more interested in the rattling paper than the gift!
Crawling, walking, then running–the next stage that we grow into is that of a child. Have you been around kids at Christmas? What do they love? I volunteer with many children’s groups, plus have two girls of my own, and I can tell you–kids like Santa, elves, bells, and baby zee-zus. (My youngest didn’t say her J’s very well as a toddler, so we have baby zee-zus at our house!)
Kids love music, parties, and presents. Their behavior maybe a little better this time of year because to them Christmas means Santa will bring them gifts if they are good! But they also like lights! I remember as a child, driving through a huge Christmas display in Hartsville every year. Now, we usually take our kids to see lights at the zoo. In our neighborhood, we have to drive through every street to see the lights at night. The lights get fancier—twinkling, fireworks, or huge blow-up things, but kids are still attracted to lights.
One day, those cute little smushy faces grow up to be tweens and teens. God has a purpose for this challenging time in a person’s life—although I can’t say that I look forward to experiencing that time with my girls. Young people think about self at Christmas time. I’m not bashing them…it’s just that in this period of their life, they are discovering who they are, and they just can’t help it! They like presents, going places, and parties. They want to be dressed the right way, take all the right pictures, and go shopping.
Teenagers might be too cool for Santa but still, want his gifts. And the story of the birth of Christ maybe a little more magical now—because they understand what certain words mean now. Like virgin, for instance. (Have you ever tried to explain the word virgin to a 4-year-old singing Silent Night?) Teenagers like lights too, though. Lights on their smartphones, lights on their cars, lights on their video games. There is just something about lights!
If a youngster survives the tween/teen years, she advances into adulthood. Young women—in college or in her early 20s, are interested in light too. At Christmas, a young woman may be thinking about candlelight. It’s not all her fault. TV holiday movies have taught us that if you don’t have a significant other, he will magically appear at Christmas, so be ready! Regardless of her relationship status, young women often think about others during this stage of life. She may spend a lot of time with family, learn about baking the perfect pumpkin pie, or shopping for the perfect gift, enjoy giving gifts to others, and even giving of her time. Christmas is a sweet time—it means spending time with the people you love. It’s a gift, not a chore at this point.
If that young woman marries her true love and along comes a baby carriage—then she enters into yet another chapter of her life. Young mothers are BUSY at Christmastime. Christmas can be stressful to say the least. Young mothers want their small children to experience everything—and simultaneously teach their children about the birth of Christ and a jolly old man.
December includes constantly dressing little wiggling bodies into the perfect Christmas outfits, driving to Grandma’s house—which isn’t always as fun as the song—church programs, decorating, cleaning, redecorating, re-cleaning. And don’t forget your phone to take pictures—did you charge it? Young mothers take pictures of everything. Especially at Christmastime.
Lights come in the form of camera flashes and traffic signals for these ladies. Do you remember those days? I’m there now! I remember when I was 8 months pregnant with my first child at Christmas…every time I heard the Christmas story or even saw a Nativity set, all I could think about was how awful it must have been for Mary to ride on a DONKEY to Bethlehem. No wonder she gave birth that night! And what horrible conditions. But it was all part of God’s design. And it was perfect.
Need a Light?
Next, let’s think about what happens in the next stage of life—we’ll call this the “Seasoned Mother.” The Seasoned Mother maybe you or your wife or your daughter right now. She’s got older children, and maybe grandkids or not. She is consumed with making Christmas special and memorable for her children AND her parents. She tries to take over cooking the Christmas feast. Santa is just a person ringing a bell at every store entrance. She is ready to have grandchildren because her kids are driving her crazy and she needs to know that God is going to produce good things from them.
The Seasoned Mother spends many hours volunteering at the church and local soup kitchen—she longs to serve. But sometimes, there is just not much left at the end of the day. But alas, the Seasoned Mother is still attracted to lights at Christmas—those lights may be in the form of a HOT & NOW sign at Krispy Kreme, or a cigarette light, or an oven light where she bakes her stress away. She may pray to the one True Light at night—that He would make her paths bright.
Golden Girls Shine Brightest
The final stage we enter is what I like to call the Golden Girl (or Golden Guy) stage. Golden Girls have been there, done that. Santa has become just a decoration in a Golden Girl’s home. But still, the Golden Girl is into lights. Lights on in her house at night for safety. Pretty lights on a Christmas tree. The light in her eyes when her grandkids come to visit.
You see, Golden Girls get it. It’s not the busy, crazy, loud, flashy things that bring us joy at Christmas. It’s the simple things. The lights. A warm blanket. Soft music. The Savior. It’s amazing how we revert to our youth as we age. Scripture tells us to come to Christ with child-like faith. Why? Because it’s simple. It’s not out to impress anyone. It’s genuine.