The Surprise of the Simply Sacred at Christmas

Sometimes the most sacred moments at Christmas come by mistake and catch us by surprise. This was the case with one of my most cherished memories.


It was a crisp cold night about a week before Christmas. My cousin had gathered us all for a potluck supper to celebrate. Her cheery little home was filled to the brim with cousins, aunts, uncles, and kids. Lots and lots of kids, many of them babies. Because the house was small and child-proofed, the kids were spread out throughout the rooms, under the watchful eye of an adult nearby, but fairly free to play. 

A few of them laughed and giggled over the building blocks they set up just to boisterously knock down.

A mom scrambled after her gleeful toddler as he pulled the coats down from high up on the master bed. 

A group of moms and dads sat in the little living room laughing at playful antics and catching up.

The kitchen was bursting with another small gathering of relatives busily preparing the food for this rather wild and crazy crowd.

There was a lovely sun porch. A bright little spot where the quieter conversations were held and the Christmas tree glistened. There sat my wonderful Aunt Patty holding court from her wheelchair, the result of her advancing MS (multiple sclerosis). She was a fiercely faithful woman who had an amazingly positive attitude despite being confined to her chair and living in a nursing home at a way-too-young age. In her usual manner, Aunt Patty greeted everyone who entered with a wide smile and a little gift she had made at the nursing home. This year, it was a tiny family of pinecones, sitting in a little walnut basket. 

I tell you, this crowd was making merry—squeals, and peals of laughter, voices raised enthusiastically, joyful greetings. 

In the middle of this delightful Christmas chaos, suddenly the lights flickered and went out. There was the hush of surprise, followed by the tears of fear that gripped the little ones, many of them terrified of the dark…and it was pitch dark! 

Everyone was quickly ushered into the sun porch, all accounted for, and not quite sure what to do next. How long would the black out last? How could we eat in the dark? What now?

The room had windows on three sides. And the stark winter night twinkled with thousands of stars. A few candles had been gathered and flickered throughout the room.

Suddenly, Aunt Patty, a gifted cantor, broke out in song, ”Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright…” Silence fell upon the room, then voices lifted high as we all joined in worship. 

There was a stillness, a sacredness that filled that room. All the hustle and bustle, stress and busyness of the season melted away, Together, we were all touched, quieted, awed by this holy moment we shared—a glimpse of light in the darkness, the sound of angels singing, the wonder and love that is Christmas. O Holy Night…

What’s one of your favorite Christmas memories?

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Elise has been married for 28 years and is mom to four mostly grown girls. She is a writer, editor, writing coach, and blogger. She believes we all have stories that matter--big life bios and small meaningful moments. Elise believes our stories are a reflection of God’s glory and are meant to be shared. They have the power to inform, reform, and transform. She loves God, familly, friends...and really likes travel!

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