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Even as a young teen she’d come home from school, after student council, geometry tutoring or drama club, and slip into the living room to lie on the carpet and gaze—at pine boughs ornamented, glistening, pointing to Heaven.

Positioned in front of a wide solid pane window, the icon of Christmas stood surrounded by gifts. Moving from one house to the next brought constant change. But every December this one fixture of seasonal décor brought peace to the detached individuals of her household.

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Their mood lightened. Another spirit softened the prevailing air of conflict. And the faces of family members actually smiled. At life and at each other.

Her dad wouldn’t be home from work yet. Mom was in the kitchen baking holiday treats or preparing dinner. Siblings bent over homework or Legos, paper dolls or a letter to Santa.

As she treasured the dusky hour to herself, as deep winter’s night descended early, the room wrapped itself in nature’s fading glow while daylight slipped away. And the tree emerged as central to all activity, the dominant fixture in the home. A reminder of a baby named God with us, of love birthed human, breaching the gap between heaven and earth, between death and hope.

It was a time for savoring Christmas, an hour when minutes crept, allowing her to dream. For reflecting on possibilities and promises and prophecies told in ages past, for wonderings and ponderings of Peace on earth, goodwill to all men.

As a young wife and mom, daytime hours filled with maternal tasks, crammed from each day’s beginning to final moments before laying her head on the pillow. One or two nights she carved out an hour to sip hot tea, legs curled under as she sat solitary in the living room, while loved ones slept.

And again she gazed on a tree, decked and lighted with decorations of her choosing. Too short a time, but at least she had made some time, for savoring Christmas.

She thought on the colors and symbols of salvation. Red for the Savior’s blood. White for a heart made clean. Gold for the star leading humanity to eternity’s child, for Heaven’s bliss, awaiting all who believe.

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IMG_4828Now as years rush by, with children grown and rooms now empty, she remembers early days when time was plentiful and tasks were few, when years ahead numbered more than years past.

In longing for time to slow, for longer periods for savoring Christmas, she sees a point in the distance when Christmas and Heaven and songs of angels will fill the space of no time, unending.

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