Moms, dads and grandparents were packed everywhere they’d fit in our little, white wooden church: slid into the pews, jammed into the cloakroom and even the entryway where the rope snaking up into the bell tower had to be swinging in someone’s face.
Up front, pews for the Sunday School kids were turned to face the center aisle. I don’t know why. Maybe there was more space that way for folding chairs.
Up front, near the Christmas tree, a slide projector shone scenes onto the front wall, a celebration of our Savior’s birth. The scenes coordinated with our hymns and pieces, ones Pastor Roth often reminded us we must speak slowly, loudly and distinctly.
But one year, my dad couldn’t come to my Christmas Eve program. He missed Mrs. Roth leading the primary class in an action song and hearing Judy Eucker sing, “Oh Holy Night.” He missed getting a bright red Delicious apple or a paper bag filled with peanuts in the shell, an orange and my favorite: raspberry hard candy.
As we came out of church that year, giant snowflakes drifted down like downy balls of milkweed fluff, but my dad, like I said – he missed it. He was at home, tending to one of our milk cows and another Christmas Eve birth in a manger, the type that kept a farm going then: a newborn baby calf. And even more exciting– to me anyway—was when my dad stepped out from the barn into that quiet, snow-filled night to see Santa Claus on our roof.
While I was speaking my Christmas piece at my Sunday School program, Santa was actually at our house, delivering gifts for my brothers and I. And for my dad to have gotten to see him was a vision of unimaginable Christmas joy that danced in my head for many days to follow.
Do I remember that Christmas?
You bet I do.
Do you know what Santa brought me?
Neither do I.
But my dad? He brought me Christmas magic, mixed with giant snowflakes and the sounds of a Silent Night.
As this season of Christmas magic begins, I wish you the unimaginable and untold possibilities the peace of Christ can bring, mixed with the memories of Christmas Past and the joys of a Silent Night.
Be sure not to miss it.