Lovely. Magical. Inspirational. That’s what Christmas is supposed to be….
But so often, we find ourselves fussing and fuming. Mall-mania. Bumper-to-bumper traffic. Credit cards, calories, and chaos. Our “Silent Night” has become a “Noisy Night-mare.” We’re searching for happiness in the fast lane, when it’s not even on the map.
You know, folks. I think we need to take a detour, this year, and head for the Hills!…See where the back-roads lead!
That’s what Michael and I are doing for the holidays. We’re heading for our vacation home in the snow-capped hills of the high country… Far away from the rumble of 18-wheelers and rush-hour traffic. The honking horns fade away, muffled by falling snow. A gentle countryside unfolds around us like a soft quilt, all stitched together with rail fences—embroidered with windmills. Old mailboxes. Leaning chimneys.
Silence settles. We breathe deeply of the icy air, reveling in the scent of pine and spruce.
This is the America of yesterday…Norman Rockwell’s World, nestled deep in the ancient hills…A lasting heritage preserved in canning jars, lard soap, and wax candles. The coziness of this world tugs at our hearts during the Holidays. It makes us yearn for sleigh rides…Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…Christmas caroling.
“Silent Night…Holy night. All is calm…all is bright.”
Onward! Onward through this winter wonderland, we go! It’s evening when we pull to a stop on our hilltop. The sun is sinking behind Sleeping Giant Mountain. Like a golden coin, the sun slides down…down…down…disappearing into the Giant’s pocket.
Dark shadows are beginning to creep in from all sides. The howl of coyotes echoes in the valley, spiraling along ravines and canyons until it fades into the dimness beyond Pilot Rock.
Hidden in the gloom is our cozy little niche. It’s still a bit primitive. No electricity. No indoor plumbing or running water, but that only adds to the charm of our holiday getaway.
It’s our Home-Sweet-Home, away from Home!
We light a fire and the lanterns. A soft glow fills our little homestead. Somehow, we’ve managed to step back in time. We’ve been transported to another age, another dimension.
Flickering firelight. The scent of candles and burning lamp oil. Memories emerge from the shadows, coaxed out of hiding by the dreamy lantern light. Memories of Christmas in the past: Granny and me, decorating the tree. Making Christmas pie while a cold wind howls outside the window.
I look at the calendar on the wall. It’s a Norman Rockwell calendar with pictures of yesteryear. Potbelly stoves. Church steeples and old country stores. Our modern conveniences didn’t even exist back then—yet the people were smiling and happy. They thrived on adversity—defying hardship.
Thumbing through the calendar, I marvel at the passage of time…It’s such a strange thing. Time—moving faster and faster in a headlong rush toward eternity. Here we are, nearing the end of another year…another decade! 2010. Where has this decade gone?
I stare out the window, gazing at the myriad of stars. The Milky Way spills across the heavens—millions of stars cascading into the vast blackness. Those stars have been observing the inhabitants of Earth for a long, long time. They are the same stars that saw the Baby Jesus at the first Christmas!
In the east, Jupiter has risen—bright as the Star of Bethlehem. It seems to be our own guiding “star” this Christmas, directing our attention to the Christ child—the reason for the season.
I feel awe-struck at God’s plan and His handiwork in the heavens. It’s a magical, orderly universe.
“Oh Holy Night…the stars are brightly shining….”
Suddenly, a streak flashes across the heavens, a shooting star heading west—following the path of the vanished sun. It’s in a hurry…a renegade star with a fiery tail.
“Star-light, star-bright!” I say quick as a wink. “Shooting stars I see tonight! I wish I may, I wish I might…have the wish I wish tonight!”
The meteor vanishes—a bright splash of light disappearing behind the Sleeping Giant.
I stare after the renegade star. I wish for Peace on Earth…for a Norman Rockwell World where charity and neighborly kindness prevails. A place where everyone lends a helping hand. I wish for love and harmony for the inhabitants of our planet. Homes for the homeless. No more war and stress and misery.
Even in these turbulent times, there is a balm in Gilead—as the Good Book says. And somehow, we must find it.
Across the room, the lantern light flickers. It dips. Wavers. Then goes out. Darkness descends on our little homestead.
I feel my way through the dimness and curl up on the couch. There, I bow my head and pray to the Creator of stars and swirling galaxies, above.
I pray ‘til sleepiness overtakes me, then I drift to a land of peace and harmony…a land that’s magical…Where children make Christmas pie with their Grannies all year ‘round. A land without a cold, howling wind…Without wars and strife and heartache.
On the far horizon, the Sleeping Giant slumbers, and so do I—cozy and warm in the quilted countryside.
The moon rises. The Big Dipper slides lower in the west.
And our little “Star of Bethlehem” shines on.