I love a lot of things about Christmas.
Family time, playing games, wearing sweats & slippers all day, eating yummy treats, napping by the fire (which I cannot seem to avoid – right in the middle of the living room, as others talked around me, I comfortably fell asleep mid-conversation – I’m just THAT relaxed at home.), Christmas music, baking with Mom, anything gingerbread…

And candle-light Christmas Eve service at church. It’s become a beloved tradition that I look forward to each year, attending this service with my family. Especially now that we’re all over the place – me in Manhattan, Ry in Denver – being able to come home and continue these traditions of warmth and love and all that simply oozes Christmas makes me all fuzzy and teary and nostalgic.

This year held a special treat: the pastor incorporated some Dr. Seuss into his sermon. Now, me and Dr. Seuss go wayyyy back; his classic tale The Cat in the Hat happens to stand as the origin of my fervent love of literature. As a little girl with access to nearly every children’s book in circulation, I quickly settled upon this fantastical story as my fast favorite and singled it out from my extensive library as “the book to end all books.” Translation: I tortured my father with my undying love for this story, to the extent that it became a giggle fit inducing icon in our household. I’d wait until he was settled comfortably on the couch with his book or newspaper, then sneak “stealthily” around the corner, book hidden cleverly behind my back, and implore my father in my 2-year-old voice, “Read me a book, Daddy?” To which he’d reply, “Sure, anything but THAT BOOK!” And I’d laugh and pull it out from behind my back and we’d spend the next half hour reading the book four or five times in a row, we loved it so much (we=me). He’d periodically try to omit sentences or paragraphs in an attempt to expedite the process, but I had that book memorized and caught him every time, insisting upon having it read “the right way.” So began my obsession with Dr. Seuss…and this Christmas Eve, Seuss’s poem “On Beyond Zebra” served as the foundation of the pastor’s sermon.

Sitting in a row with my family on the night before Christmas, basking in the joy of sheer togetherness and the tear-building contentment of knowing I am way beyond blessed, and then topping it off with a message that brought me to the very heart of nostalgic memories of my childhood (is it possible to enter into a Christmas season without thinking of every Christmas prior, sifting through treasured memories as though counting pieces of pure gold?)…it was almost too much for my little heart to hold, and I felt as though I might burst with the very rightness of it all.

I can never be little again, and see Christmas through the wonder of a child’s eyes, no matter how desperately I might wish for those days to return. But I can be thankful for all that I have, and hold the memories dear to me, while delighting in the gifts of the present. Like standing beside my brother and parents during the candlelight portion of the service, which is always a thing of beauty in itself, passing along the flickering flame in the dark room while singing “Silent Night,” until the sanctuary is aglow with hundreds of tiny flames darting the darkness like wishing stars.

And, wouldn’t you know it – at that moment, I couldn’t possibly think of one thing to wish for that I didn’t have right beside me.