The Secret Sam was my favorite Christmas present as a child. I still have it, and I will keep it, or perhaps pass it on to a grandchild. Oh, how I was excited and hoping the year I asked for my own Secret Sam.
That was my spy year, my year of intrepid adventures around the neighborhood. It was one of my last Christmases as a child, I think, wanting toys and dreaming of adventures. Not too many years later, perhaps even the next one, my Christmas gifts would be stereos and albums, bell bottom jeans and paisley print turtlenecks.
Perhaps that is why the memory of it is such a treasure to me.
This year my grandchildren will be blessed with the breathless anticipation of what might be under the tree Christmas morning. They will be late to bed, too excited to sleep easily, and early to rise, rushing to the living room in all the excitement and wonder a child can have.
They are being taught the real reason for Christmas, and they will have opened the last flap on the Advent calendar the day before, they will place Jesus in the manger on Christmas morning, and some of them will have caught snippets of the Christmas story, perhaps even at Midnight Mass, but most are still too young to really understand the Biblical readings.
They have a book here at my house that unfolds into the journey to Bethlehem, and all the figures are there to travel or meet Mary and Joseph along the way. We read stories, we sing songs, we watch videos.
Together we have baked cookies and breads and made treats, and we have given them away. One granddaughter talks about Jesus and Mary and Joseph as if she is speaking of beloved family members who have gone on an exciting trip.
I want to help nurture faith, hope, and love, generosity, joy, as well as create memories and enjoy the anticipation. I want to see Christmas through the eyes of happy children who see so clearly the joy, the promise, and the simpleness of it all.
Most of all, I want to share the feelings, the very same feelings of a child who exclaims “I love Jesus!” and means it with all their heart.
May your Christmas Eve be blessed with warmth and hope and family and stockings that will soon be full, a house filled with scents of the season, and the anticipation of the birth of our Savior.
I pray for those who can’t be home, especially our service men and women, all those who work to keep us safe and healthy, and those who just can’t be home with loved ones. I pray for those who are alone in the world, for children who won’t have a joyful and warm and safe Christmas.
I pray for the world to share the joy and peace of the season. God bless us every one.