by Katherine Scott Crawford
It’s something—a feeling, a spirit, a hope—that I’ve searched for, and inevitably found, every December since I was a child.
When I was very young, my parents made the magic. They filled our house with Christmas cheer: Johnny Mathis, John Denver and Bing Crosby on the record player and then the stereo; a house festooned with garland, candles and poinsettias; the everyday china exchanged for plates and mugs and bowls of Spode Christmas china; the lighting of the Advent calendar; the mistletoe hanging from the light fixture in the foyer; and the enormous Virginia pine Christmas tree. Today, that tree is a Fraser Fir, but it’s still brilliantly lit with bubble lights and adorned with mine and my sister’s hand-made ornaments, along with a precious few that have been in my father’s family since the turn of the century. It stands next to an enormous real-wood fireplace, red, crocheted stockings hung at the fat wooden mantel, just waiting for Santa Claus. To this day, my sister’s and my stockings are stretched inches longer than any of the others from years of being stuffed to the brim with goodies.
On Christmas Eve we’d head to church for the United Methodist celebration of the Moravian Love Feast. We’d sing Christmas carols, convene with friends, and hold our candles aloft as the entire sanctuary sang “Silent Night.” I loved standing on the pew bench with my family, holding my candle high and watching the glow on the faces around me. After, we’d head home for Christmas Eve supper with my aunt’s family and our best family friends: a tradition we still keep to this day. That very night, Santa would call the house, and all the kids would line up to hear just where his sleigh was at that very moment (usually over the Atlantic Ocean, Rudolph lighting the way through the fog).
Now, as an adult with a writing and teaching career, a family (including a husband, a dog, a three year-old daughter and a baby on the way), it takes a concerted effort to create that Christmas magic. I have to look for it—to make it happen, because I want my daughter to grow up as I was so lucky to: feeling that every day of December holds promise and magic.
I want her to be able—as I did as a child, a teenager, and still do—to stand outside in the dark of a cold Christmas Eve, and to look up at that mysterious sky with wonder and hope. I want her to feel in her bones a peace like no other. That is my most fervent Christmas wish, this year of all years. I wish it for all of us—for the community of Newtown, Connecticut, for all the world, for my family and for yours.
Tonight and every night, may we sleep in heavenly peace.