It’s here; the calendar has turned, and across the top of the page, the infamous month is emblazoned: DECEMBER. If I could infuse my words with music, I would insert “Joy to the World” or perhaps “Deck the Halls,” but, alas, I can’t. Imagination will have to suffice. It isn’t obvious that December stirs some excitement in this heart, is it? For me, December has always been a month when the duty of dishwashing was accompanied by off-keyed carols, when shopping became a quest for a great surprise, and when snowflakes were merely the fulfillment of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”
With December here, I have decided to take a step back, entertain a blast from the past, and compose some of my memories into text. For the next few weeks, I’ll share moments from my Christmas chronicles: one funny, one fond, and one forgotten. My hope is that my words will encourage some reflection—on memories as well as the True Reason for these memories.
It had been nearly a perfect Christmas--or for lack of a better term: a Kodak Christmas. At eight years old, I couldn’t imagine my Christmas any better; my family and I had enjoyed a splendid candlelit dinner; the Christmas story had been read, and items from my wish list were scattered around me. The celebratory evening was complete: tummies were full, hearts were inspired, and holiday cheer in gifts was enjoyed. But behind the tree, one large box remained; the label read: TO: CARMA, FROM: MOM AND DAD.
Excitement was bubbling within when dad placed the package in front of me. I slowly began tearing the paper while dreams of a dollhouse and Barbie swimming pool danced through my head. As the paper fell to the floor in scraps, a shiny gold metal object began appearing. After a few big rips, I exclaimed, “It’s a…... bird cage?!?” There it sat in all its glory—complete with bird food, bird toys, and even a bird bath.
“Do you like it?” Mom excitedly asked. I looked at her and then back at the cage.
“Yeah,” I slowly responded, “but what am I going to do with it?”
“Well, you will have your own cage now when you babysit CC,” mom explained. CC was my sister’s parakeet that lived in Orange City and only came to visit on the holidays. I hardly thought my own cage was necessary, considering CC rarely visited and usually came with his own cage.
“Oh, ok,” I quietly said, trying to think of what I was going to do with an empty cage, bird food, bird toys, and a bird bath. No ideas readily came to mind, and at eight years old, all I saw a wire cage; I didn’t see the excitement of potentially taking care of CC; I didn’t see the responsibility I had with all my own supplies. All my excitement dissipated.
Dad quickly handed me another box, but this box was filled with scratching and peeping. I carefully peaked inside and to my surprise there sat a parakeet.“Oh, I have my own bird,” I said. I gently lifted the feathered creature from the box and set him in the cage. The cage was no longer empty; it no longer housed my disappointment, but it became a home.
Today, I can still remember the swing from excitement to disappointment to excitement again; I can smile now, knowing my parents were probably amused at how hard I tried to conceal my disappointment. I know I failed. But that empty cage has taught me a lesson—sometimes the most mundane events/things have the greatest potential.
Over 2,000 years ago, there was an empty stable; it was complete with stalls, animals, and straw. It was ordinary, but God saw potential… and he took the ordinary and made it extraordinary. Through the night, the stable was no longer empty; it became the birthplace of a King, eternal royalty. The animals became the first witnesses of the Son of God, and the hay became the cushion for the Prince’s bed.
So… when just an empty cage appears, remember its potential goes beyond all possibilities, just as that plain stable became sacred so many years ago.