Everyone has their own favorite thing about Christmas. For some it may be presents, Christmas lights, Christmas parties, Christmas decorations, Christmas discounts, Christmas food, or family gatherings. My family and I have always celebrated Christmas simply. No lavish parties/celebrations (I never liked the idea of celebrating Christmas before Christmas or anything too extravagant..I mean that’s a complete deviation from the orginal Christmas itself, right?). No Christmas presents (presents in my family are always merit-based, I remember when I was a kid I only get year-end presents if I was the top of the class). No Christmas shopping. Just mass at church and a simple family gathering with the whole family where we had a home cooked meal and had a short Christmas service (a couple of readings, prayers, and songs).
What’s my favorite thing about Christmas?
It’s when Christmas Eve mass (I’m a Catholic) is about to start, and the church goes completely dark and silent. Candle in hand, my eyes start looking for a source of light in the dark room and find everyone somehow starting to share their candle light to their left and right. One thing about Christmas is about giving, right? The choir starts singing Silent Night. Tiny yellow flames are everywhere in the church and I see a glimpse of the Pastor and his teammates marching towards the altar.
In that dark moment of singing Silent Night (acapella, no organ/musical instruments involved) and seeing the candle light slowly spreading in the room is my favorite thing about Christmas.
From darkness turning into light.
The gesture of sharing and spreading candle light to your neighbours.
Silent Night being sung by everyone in unison.
Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.
I remember a number of times when tears filled my eyes in that moment. Especially after a stressful week of finals, a year of hard work, disappointments, bittersweet moments, sad moments, loss and heartbreak, blessings and achievements, that moment never fails to move me emotionally. Wow, God let me live another year. God let me celebrate another Christmas. This particular Christmas moment effectively represents my very own personal Christmas meaning: Christmas as a source of hope that recharges my soul towards another year of challenges. Christmas is a source of hope that provides the assurance that everything is gonna be OK.
Who knew a moment that simple (compared to the glitz and glam sides of Christmas) can have so much meaning and be so emotionally moving?
I’m not gonna lie, Christmas decorations are pretty, Christmas songs are heartwarming, watching Christmas movies is always cozy, and Starbucks’ red cups are always a nice touch to the season. Being together with your loved ones is great, after all, pretty much all major holidays bring people together, right? But strip that all away, or maybe even, if you have all the Christmas accessories, food, music, movies and presents you can possibly desire, it’s that one moment of tranquility in complete silence and darkness, and then turning into light that I would always long for every December.
By the way, here’s a really nice acapella of Silent Night by Boyz II Men.