I awoke to my youngest sister's excited squeals. I groaned and rolled over, trying to go back to sleep. "Merry Christmas Eve, Kate!" she kept saying as she jumped up and down on my bed. I looked up at the blinding light coming in through my window and coved my head. It was too early...alright it was 9:30...but still, I was tired, and I lingered in my bed trying to hold on to my last dream.
Eventually I gave up going back to sleep and joined the rest of my family in the kitchen. She kept insisting it was time to open presents, and my mom kindly took her aside and explained that presents weren't opened until Christmas day. Liz still kept trying to get her way, but mom wasn't having it. There was talk of getting a few last minute items and dropping off gifts for friends of the family. I had a sour expression on my face as I skimmed the morning paper. "What are you doing today, Kate?" my father asked. I gazed back and glumly replied, "I'm working." I tried to think of a million excuses not to go in to work, but eventually, my responsible half won.
As I got ready for work, Mom could sense my frustration and she took me aside. She gently told me that I could chose to be happy, and I could decided to do my best to serve people today. I brushed off the thought as sleepiness and the impending afternoon weighed heavily on my mind. It was December 24th, and I wanted to spend it at home with my family who I rarely got to see anymore--since I'd gone away to school.
Nonetheless, I made it to work with not a moment to spare...literally. Every single check stand was open. I had never seen that, and I sighed as I went to clock in. The day danced by slowly as we dealt with the many shoppers looking for last minute gifts. Most of them were upset when they found out that we were sold out of almost every "hot ticket" item. "Serves them right for waiting until the day before Christmas," snickered a few of my co-workers. As I pushed a particularly heavy flat bed of merchandise, I kept feeling sorry for myself. Several minutes later, a guest passed by me and wished me a very "Merry Christmas." I stopped for a second and appreciated the greeting, but then got back to work as the store was literally a mad house. It was so busy that I kept forgetting that it was Christmas Eve until I saw someone wearing a Santa hat or carrying a million rolls of wrapping paper down my freshly organized aisles-- knocking over all of my hard work.
Finally the store closed, and we were all anxious to get home. Almost everyone was impatient and tired of looking at the many aisles that were littered with toys and wrapping paper. We got off right around 8pm. I got in my car, and was delighted to hear the Christmas music on the radio, and I sang along to the many new age Christmas songs, until "The First Noel" came on the radio and reminded me how many times I'd thought about 'me' today.
It sunk in.
All day in a store had made me think of the materialism of Christmas-- and the "me, me, me" mentality it can bring upon us--leaving us feeling empty and low. For the first time all day, I smiled as I thought of the true reason for the season.
I started to notice all of the lovely lights on homes and Christmas trees as I drove into my neighborhood. I wondered why people put lights on their homes and trees. That was easy; It could symbolize the Light of Christ-- or perhaps the star that led the wise men and the shepherds to Bethlehem on that holy Christmas eve so many years ago. Then something that I'd never thought about occured to me. If the lights represented the star that led those who wanted to come unto Christ in Bethlahem, by putting lights on our trees and homes, we are in a sense saying, "Christ is within." He lives within our homes and our hearts if we'll but accept him. More and more people think about the gifts, the tree, and all the decor rather than what we should be remembering-- We wouldn't be anything without the greatest Christmas gift of all--God's son Jesus Christ.