Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mounds of Powdered Sugar

Over the last six weeks, Sibley has been landscaped with mounds of powdered sugar, sparkling, spiked icicles, and even frosted trees. If one didn’t know better, it would appear that the community had been transformed into a magical candy land… without, of course, the colorful tiled path, Peppermint Stick Forest, Lollipop Woods, or Ice Cream Floats.

When I was little, I always thought the snow piles looked like mounds of powdered sugar. Well, the piles were powdered sugar until I was sitting in one. To my disbelief, the “sugar” was cold, wet, and not at all sweet. But it was fun to play and dig in it! When I wasn’t playing in the snow, the piles instantly became mounds of powdered sugar once again.

As I have grown, I hate to admit that I have lost some of the child-like wonder and imagination. My childhood “mounds of powdered sugar” have become nothing more than mountains of snow and ice. The “sugar” image has been replaced with countless hours of snow removal work, slippery sidewalks, and even postponements, which certainly don’t sweeten life.

What is some of the “sweetness” of snow? Despite the fact that snow still creates a lot of work,it is beautiful. The pristine white covers all the withered grass and shriveled leaves. Its wetness can bring chatter and giggles when sledding down a hill or building a snowman. The intricate lace snowflakes can stir up a sense of awe and amusement.

Every once in awhile, when I’m traveling down a road or looking out the window, reality will break, and I’ll still catch a glimpse of my childhood mounds of powdered sugar. I realize then a part of me will always find a little sweetness in the mounds… even when I’m tired of trying to get around in the snow.

Take a little time. Play in the sugar. Enjoy the sweetness.

No Place Like Home

When one thinks about Christmas, what images come to mind? Is it a gently falling snow that transforms the outdoors into a winter wonderland, or is it light-lined homes that look as though they have been snatched from a Christmas movie? Do the images include rosy-cheeked families gathering, frosted trees, sleigh rides, carolers, gifts, and late-night stocking stuffing?

A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing how Christmas is often depicted with a wintery scene; however, this snowy Christmas picture is also carried into the songs of the season: I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, Let It Snow, Frosty the Snowman, and Jingle Bells. My friend and I couldn’t help but wonder whether snowy scenes on Christmas cards and winter-themed carols have as much meaning in Arizona or Florida as in Iowa.

If asked last year whether I could celebrate Christmas under a palm tree on a sandy beach, I would have answered with a resounding “Yes!” But this year that resounding “yes” would be marked with hesitation.I never realized how much setting affected my feeling of Christmas until last year when I traveled to North Carolina a week before Christmas Day. My friends and I were welcomed with warm weather, Southern hospitality, and good times.

As Christmas Day neared, I found that I had to keep reminding myself that Christmas was only four days away. It didn’t feel like Christmas. I was surrounded by great friends, saw the decorated homes, heard the familiar carols on the radio, and enjoyed some of their Christmas traditions. But something was missing for me.

I didn’t find that something until I pulled into my snow-packed driveway; it was home. Suddenly, it felt like Christmas was two days away. Suddenly, everything that I knew as Christmas was before me. This was Christmas. This was home.

On that first Christmas, Jesus had to leave His home and come to a fallen world, where He would eventually be despised, mocked, and crucified. He suffered so that one day we can celebrate in our eternal home.

On that day, I will say, “I will celebrate. This is home!”

Christmas Magic to Majesty

With Christmas quickly approaching, a magic appears to fill the air. The magic is seen in the snowflakes gently falling outside my window, the marathon of carols playing on my radio, the lights bedazzling homes around town, and even in the trees twinkling in windows. The everyday world is transformed into a winter wonderland where people greet one another with cheery smiles and holiday wishes.

When I was a little girl, I loved the “magic” that Christmas created. Of course, I knew Christmas magic truly didn’t exist, but for one month I felt life came as close to magical as possible. My home was etched in sparkling lights, covering the weathered spots; the glowing tree would bring excitement with its growing pile of gifts; evening dishwashing would be accompanied with a chorus of carols; cookies and candies would bring temptation and smiles. Life felt and looked as though it had been plucked from a storybook.

Now at 29, I find it more difficult to see the magic of Christmas. I still see the snow, lights, trees, and gifts; I still hear and sing the well-loved carols, but I find my child-like awe of these things has been replaced with a greater understanding.
As a child, I was taught that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday. I believed it; I participated in the Christmas program at church, but yet the lights, trees, and presents were so much more exciting and magical than the birthday.

I realize now that Christmas magic has only occurred once, or perhaps I should say Christmas majesty. It didn’t happen when I was a little girl either; it occurred over 2,000 years ago in a dilapidated stable. There were no gleaming strings of lights, but there were radiant angels in the sky singing, “Glory to God in the highest." There were no tinseled trees, but there were shepherds and wise men on bended knee. There were no parties and jolly carols, but there was silence and a piercing cry of a newborn, the Son of God.

Because of that cry, Christmas can be celebrated. Because of that cry, I am here to celebrate Christmas… not so much the magic but the majesty of it!Don’t get me wrong—I still enjoy the lights, trees, gifts, and carols; I still like the cheery aura surrounding the Christmas season. But I don’t allow the magic to overtake the majesty of Christmas… for the magic only lasts one month, but the majesty has endured for over 2,000 years!