When I grew up, I thought I knew what to expect each Christmas, but found each one to be different. Not one was the same.
Like the changing pedestal on a ferris wheel, Christmas photos and memories told different stories every year. Sometimes it made for a very different kind of Christmas.
When I was 3, I received frilly white socks instead of the toy cars my brother and cousin received. Not what I expected.
When I was 12, my grandmother passed away on Christmas Eve. It was a different kind of Christmas, as it was when I was 24, and I became a widow.
My life resumed, and I remarried. When our daughters were 6 and 9, we had to tell them their beloved Nana had died. It was three weeks before Christmas. Not what we expected.
One year we suffered unemployment. I bought Christmas gifts at the dollar store and sewed coats for the girls from scraps of fabric. It was a different kind of Christmas.
Our daughters grew up and had families of their own. The faces around the dinner table gradually began to change. Great grandparents departed, and the places left vacant by their passing would later be filled with the presence of new family: our daughters' husbands, and then grandchildren. Life was so different than we expected--wonderful in many ways, but also sad at times.
Life wasn't what Mary or Joseph expected, either. Mary didn't expect to be chosen to carry the Son of God. She didn't expect that Jesus would become the King of the World. She didn't expect she and Joseph had no where else to go, but to a lowly stable to give birth to their son.
Imagine the anticipation Mary must have felt, as she looked lovingly into the eyes of her newborn babe, expecting what every mother would want for her child. But the unexpected would happen--Jesus would give His life on the Cross to save the sins of all Mankind.
Life may change from one Christmas to the next, but one thing is certain: God never changes. His presence is with us. He is seated among us, at every celebration of joy, in every time of sorrow, through our laughter, our tears, when we are sleeping, or waking. He is with us.
Imagine the look in the Savior's eyes as millions celebrate His birth on Christmas Day. What anticipation must He hold within, to see all who have accepted the gift He has to offer. And yet there are so many more in need of this gift of Salvation.
Salvation--it is The Gift, unexpected. It can make for a very different Christmas, for it brings new life, and the assurance of eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord.
Have a most Blessed, Joyous, and Merry Christmas!
"The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." - Romans 6:23