It was late on Christmas Day; the sun had set and my parents and I were somewhere between Yatesville and Barnesville on our way back home after the day-long celebration of Christ’s birth through the eating of food and the exchanging of gifts. Into the quietness of the moment broke my father’s voice; he said, “Well, that’s that for another 365 days!” And my ten-year-old heart sank. How on earth and under heaven could I wait 365 days for next Christmas to arrive?
I confess that to my child’s mind it was the Santa Claus aspect of Christmas—an aspect that is filled with its own special brand of wonder mixed with anxiety—that made time move so slowly for me. Looking back, though, I realize that there was a great benefit to the mysterious, if imaginary, slowing down of time in the days leading up to Christmas: it created space in which I could experience the real mystery and wonder of the season. In that space I could and did marvel over what God had done in Christ.
Another reason that time seemed to slow to a crawl for me back then was that once school let out for the holidays I had nothing to do until Christmas Day arrived. That has changed, too; I have not had “nothing to do” since 1975.
That’s not all that has changed. Now the phrase “as slow as Christmas” mocks me and my lifestyle; now 365 days go by as if they are 36.5 days. It seems as if we celebrated Christmas just a few months ago. Whereas pre-Christmas time slowed down of its own accord during my childhood, now I have to take intentional steps to create space in which I can experience the mystery and wonder of the great act of love and grace that was carried out by Almighty God in the birth of Jesus Christ.
Time did not really slow down when I was a child; it just seemed like it.
We cannot really slow time down now; we can, however, set some time aside to read about, to reflect upon, and to marvel at the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
It would be a good thing, too, if the practice of slowing down and being present with the God who loves us enough to come to us would carry over into the rest of our year and into the rest of our life …