Each year, like a long awaited friend arriving unexpectedly early at your door, the Christmas season manifests around us. There is a familiar excitement that rises in you as you catch hints of Christmas beginning to appear in what are typically mundane spaces. Like gradually blooming flowers, first one and then many homes and businesses don the vibrant colors of holiday decorations and lights. A feast for the eyes on a table set by an early sunset. The nostalgia crescendos as you feel the cold wind bite at your cheeks. A sensation that feels almost necessary, as though the excitement may flee you if you had the need to shed your jacket for warmth. The holiday spirit holds its tempo in your heart even in the routine moments as you hear Christmas carols in your car and over the speakers at the grocery store. Perhaps marketing has gone too far as you feel entirely compelled to fill your cart with Christmas cookies, cinnamon rolls, and your favorite scented candles. Now invading your home in the best of ways, scents fill the air of your kitchen as you bring the sensations of Christmas full circle for a house filled with lights, holly, laughter, presents, cookies, and loved ones. A full body experience so soothing you feel ready for the new year that makes its way steadily toward you.
The experience of Christmas is a consummate one. It invigorates, restores, and instills a joy that can be carried through all things. Christmas is a time of giving, but to me it is in and of itself a gift from the God we celebrate for the season. Through the bodies and the senses God so perfectly crafted, we can celebrate Christ’s birth throughout the gift of Christmas. If you can call to mind that each little light, present, and scent is a gentle reminder of Christ’s presence with us then through your senses you can truly capture and understand one of God’s greatest identities: Emmanuel, God with us.