By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist
“There is holiness to memory,” Philip Gulley writes in his Christmas in Harmony, and “a sense of God’s presence” in what Gulley calls the “mangers of the mind.”
Perhaps the memories in the manger center on wonderful moments in a decades-long line of Christmas Eve services or the particular way your family lit the Advent candles each year. Other memories in the manger almost certainly focus on Christmas joys, as commonplace as they are special, all wrapped up in the way your mother always orchestrated the trimming of the tree, or the way your father handed out the gifts on Christmas morning, or your family’s favorite egg nog recipe or your clan’s most treasured Christmas stories and shows, movies and music.
From the oldest in the family for whom Christmases now seem to roll around at a once-a-week rate to the youngest little one just learning to focus on the sparkle of the Christmas lights and herself lighting up the family on her first Christmas, everyone has those memories, lovingly placed in the “mangers of the mind.” And each of them is itself a gift from the One who is the greatest Gift ever given and the real center of every joy.
So much beauty.
So much joy.
What is remarkable is that so much of it is all wrapped up just like last year and the year before, or the year 30 years before.
Woe to the family member who messes much with the recipe!
The Christmas Eve package-openers will likely always look askance at the Christmas morning package-openers.