Take time for reflection in the sweet silence of Christmas Eve

December 24, 2004|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

I was posting some Christmas cards around our kitchen window, enjoying the splash of color they added to the room, when one card caught my eye.

"May your Christmas be one of silent wonder, abundant blessings and sweet memories."

Silence, wonder, blessings, memories - what fitting descriptions for Christmas Eve.

Most of the preparations for tomorrow's festivities are completed. Anything left undone probably will remain that way. We have to be ready for Christmas because when we wake up, it will be here.

So we quiet ourselves by gazing at the twinkling lights on our trees. We notice the decorations in our neighborhoods. We hope for just a little dusting of snow. Doesn't everyone want a touch of white for Christmas?

We attend candlelight services, whispering quietly to those around us. We don't want to spoil those magical moments.

We welcome friends and family with gentle hugs and warm smiles. We tuck in our children and tell them to stay put until daylight.


Is there a mouse stirring? We'll quiet him, too. (The cheese spread left over from last night's party will come in handy, after all.)

We long for silence on this night.

In contrast, wonder is not something that we seek. It is something we simply embrace. More so than any other night of the year, we expect this one to be special.

There are many facets to the wonder of this night.

Children wonder how a man in a red suit can deliver all those toys, but they want to believe, oh, how they want to believe.

Adults marvel how a baby born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago still can take center stage today in a world that is so different and yet very much the same.

The blessings come in unexpected ways, usually at times when we've calmed our pace long enough to connect with another person.

Earlier this week, I was making my way across the grocery store when I realized my children weren't following. As I backtracked and found them collecting coupons two aisles back, a gentleman with snow-white hair caught my eye. His wife was chattering on and on about all they needed to buy for Christmas dinner. He wasn't ignoring her; he just didn't seemed too concerned about all the preparations. He seemed more interested in chuckling over my sudden realization that my little ones weren't with me. His eyes smiled as they knowingly indicated the coupons in my children's hands. Given the chance, I think he would have liked to follow them around the store with his own version of, "I saw this one first!"

The simple smile he gave me truly was a blessing. It told me he understood. He cared. He could relate. Perhaps my children stirred a memory he had of his family. The recollection seemed to please him.

Sweet memories have a way of doing just that. Each time I see children's zip-up footed pajamas, I think of the early Christmas mornings when my children were toddlers. They would crawl over their presents, sit on our laps, play with the wrapping paper and put the boxes on their heads. Flannel-covered toes is all we'd see peeping out from under the mess. Tiny, wiggling, flannel-covered toes, very content to be just where they were.

Memories are something we make even if we have no plans to do so. They creep up on us when we least expect them. If we're not careful, we'll miss the best of them while we're busy making plans for something else.

Don't allow that to happen in your house tomorrow. Treasure tonight's silence, bask in the wonder of the holiday, be thankful for even the smallest of blessings and make some sweet memories.

Have a very merry Christmas.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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