My most powerful Christmas happened in 1990, when I was in a faraway land deployed as part of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. It was several weeks before the first Gulf War kicked off, and as a young Air Force Officer I was not sure how long we’d be there and if—or when--we’d return home.
But that Christmas in Tent City, far away from my family and my surroundings, in the cold, barren landscape not far from the physical birthplace of the Christ child, I experienced Christmas in a whole new way; with solitude, quiet reverence, and a singular introspection. I was alone with the birth of Christ in a way I had never been before.
It’s so common in today’s society to pity those who are physically alone or are separated from their families on Christmas. But after that experience in December 1990, I pity those who’ve never experienced the sanctity of celebrating Christmas alone. I got to have a private and deeply personal birthday party with Jesus.
We all lament that the holidays are too overwrought with consumerism and we dread the inevitable dysfunctional get-togethers. Yet we also cry over how hard it must be for people who can’t buy presents, which have no meaning in Christmas. And God forbid someone is alone and without family when the fact is our heavenly father resides right in our hearts.
As an extrovert from a large family, who was once even married, I got the whole family vibe and the excited wonderment in children’s eyes as they tear into their gifts, and I relished it for many years. But all of those earthly bonds I once had eventually faded over time due to death, disagreements, and even divorce.
It is my hope that those of us who find ourselves out of the holiday “norm” can relish the fact that we have everything within ourselves to have our own individual Christmas miracle. The quieter you are the more you can hear. So this Christmas, get yourself alone.
Take time to quietly contemplate how the creator of the universe took the form of man and was born a child laid in a lowly manger. Worship and adoration of the King is a vertical experience, not a horizontal one. So keep your eyes up and your heart filled with praise because with Christ, we are never alone!