Sam started sleeping upside down in his bed. He untucks his blankets and puts his pillow at the foot of his bed so his head is next to the window. He slides his curtain aside and looks out, looks up through the snapping cold.
In the summer, of course, he can't see them. Bedtime is too early. But in the long dark night of winter, bright bits of beauty sparkle and gleam in the sky. He loves to lie in bed and look out through the dark to see the stars.
And I think we all follow stars. We all chase after the lovely thing, the rare or precious sight or experience or feeling we want to keep, want to hold.
And at Christmastime?
I was shopping (briefly, amazingly alone!), when I felt a few moments of communal happiness. There really is no better word for that feeling of finding for just the right present than delight - just being caught up in anticipation, imagining the recipient's reaction, knowing you'll surprise them with a little sliver of gladness. And all over the store, people were doing the same. Picking up something, pausing, considering if this would suit their loved ones, if maybe that might bring more joy, or even this one over here --
It was really cool to realize I was right in the middle of an eager flood of love and generosity and joy, a whole store full of people buying things to give away. I love that.
Gifts are good and important ways to show love, ways to say "you matter to me" and "I see you."
And it's crazy how easy it is to follow that so-beautiful star, to focus on its lovely glow -
But gifts aren't the star. No, Christmas isn't reserved only for people who can buy or make gifts, not just for those who have someone to give them presents or someone to receive their presents.
Lonely or swamped, rich or poor, near, far - we can all follow the star. It leads us to Jesus. And we will never miss Christmas when we take time to turn our routine around, pull back its pages, and let the story of the Messiah shine into our hearts.
I pray we all find ourselves kneeling before Him, worshiping, this Christmas.