It was the 23rd of December 2015 and I had just a few more things to accomplish before my side of the family came over for Christmas Eve dinner.
We would have one less this year.
She passed away a week earlier last year at the age of 91. I knew it was going to feel strange to be without the woman I’d spent Christmas Eve with for the past 56 years. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes but quickly pushed the reminiscing aside, there was still much to do.
While zipping around the kitchen island clearing the stack of mail needing to be sorted I saw something through the window adjacent to the front door. A basket wrapped in cellophane.
Oh how I love these little extra surprises this time of year.
As I went outside to retrieve the “happy” I thought, I wonder who left it? Placing the basket on the messy counter and looking around at all that needed to be put away, I vowed to wait and explore the bundle of goodies later.
And later quickly became the next day, Christmas Eve.
The day before Christmas has always held as much elation for me as Christmas day. The anticipation being almost as exciting as the event.
Growing up it seemed like the longest 24 hours of the year. I might pass some of the day by sitting at the piano bench and staring up at the Santa Clause and elves my mom carefully perched atop our old upright. The figurines would come to life as I’d play out the delivery of my favorite toys over and over again. Afterwards I might lie on my back under the Christmas tree for hours gazing up through the branches at the twinkling kaleidoscope all glowing lights, my senses heightened by the dreamy smells of turkey and sweet potatoes wafting from the kitchen. But on Christmas morning the real food would have to wait. One thing my brother, sister and I were always sure to open first was a box of candy. It was tradition. Every year separate from our stockings, we each received our favorite indulgence, and most years that meant chocolate covered cherries.
Forget breakfast, we’d eat the chocolate creamy treats until we were sick to our stomachs and when we felt better (or at least me), we would start into them again. This simple tradition was a taste of the season, a childhood joy, a sweet remembrance of Christmas morning with Mom and Dad.
Many years have come between me and those childhood memories. And I can’t recall the last time I put a chocolate covered cherry in my mouth.
Now with the food cooked, table set, hubby in the shower and the family set to arrive for Christmas Eve dinner in 30 minutes, I decided to sneak a peek at the cellophane wrapped basket I collected from the front porch the day before. After a long day of preparation it was calling my name.
I carefully unwrapped the nameless package to reveal its contents.
There were golf balls, obviously for my husband David, some cheeses and cookies, a Santa coffee mug and a small gift wrapped box. I ripped back the snowman-clad paper to reveal it’s hidden treasure.
Chocolate covered cherries!
I was like Eve in the garden with the forbidden fruit, I couldn’t resist, I had to a taste!
As my teeth gently pierced the chocolate nugget spilling the white creamy inside onto my tongue, the most amazing thing happened. Like magic, my brain burst forth in a symphony of senses. Crystal clear scenes, smells and sounds transported me back to Christmas morning with my mom.
For a split second that seemed to last hours, I smelled turkey cooking, saw the tree, the lights, the elves and heard the soothing sound of my mother’s voice.
For that moment in time she wasn’t gone.
For those few seconds she was here.
God knew what I needed right then–the perfect gift, wrapped in chocolate.
God is so good. He knows just what we need.
That’s why at the right time He sent His Son wrapped in human flesh to live among us.
“But when the set time had come, God sent his Son, born under the law that we might receive adoption to sonship.”