In a Single Night

When I was in 6th grade, my teacher, Mrs. Kaiser, told the class what Christmas was like for her as a child. She went to her grandparents’ farmhouse out in the country. All the aunts and uncles and cousins gathered for Christmas Eve. What was strange was that nobody decorated for Christmas. No lights, no tree, no sweets, no presents. Christmas had not arrived.

That Christmas Eve, all the children slept in the basement. They went to bed in a normal farmhouse that had no evidence of Christmas at all.

Sometime in the night, the entire house transformed. Every surface was covered with garlands of pine, lights, and Christmas decorations. In the night, an enormous Christmas tree somehow arrived, decorated with the most beautiful ornaments. Presents burst from under the tree and went up the stairs of that farmhouse. Kitchen counters magically filled with cookies and pies. The table erupted with food.

In this family, Christmas came all at once, in a single night. My teacher explained that the magical transformation–so thorough and complete–brought so much wonder and joy to her heart. In a single night, everything changed.

I thought about this story for years. I imagined the faces of those children as they crept up the basement stairs. I imagined the wonder, the disbelief, the awe, and the mystery. But how? When? Who? 

In a single night, everything changed.

That is Christmas: a little baby born one night. In a single night, the whole world was set free by something so wonderful and so mysterious as God coming down to us.

We creep up the basement stairs, open the door, and let the light of Christmas flood our hearts.

In a single night, everything changes.

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