For Christmas we flew to Luxembourg City where my father-in-law picked us up at the airport to spend Christmas 1991 in Bruch, Germany; and the reflection in this mirror looks like looking through a window at Christmas from the outside – in anticipation of what’s to come.
Looking through the foyer door to see the decorated Christmas tree for the first time, is like a personal invitation of welcome to the wonder that is Christmas – each year recreating that childhood innocence and experience of years long ago.
This year was the first and only time in my memory that the Christmas tree in Bruch was moved upstairs near the dining room, and I thought the stairway that climbs around the tree added a nice touch to the occasion.
My father-in-law had this antique rocking horse beautifully restored, with a new tail, saddle and rockers – that were all previously missing – and there was no better place for it to stand than under the Christmas tree.
The rocking horse is symbolic of childhood memories along with toy trains, Christmas cookies and gifts under the tree – reliving our own childhood memories of years long ago.
I’ve always liked to focus on a section of the Christmas tree and the gifts below it as a “portrait” of the childlike wonder that Christmas evokes in us all – the pure and unselfish act of thoughtful giving without expectations – to a spirit not tied to Christmas as a particular “day” but a spirit that always reminds us to give to those who are in need of our assistance on any day of the year.
A table set for dinner always provides a sense of anticipation, and the Christmas tree in the background reminds us of holiday and family festivities; stiring thoughts of family gatherings past, present and future.
An empty holiday table decorated for dinner, creates an expectation of guests filling its seats – with holiday meals and the gathering of friends and family – and the house filled with friendship, cheer and goodwill.
I sit with David (right) and his cousin (left) on the afternoon of Christmas Eve in Bruch, where we exchanged presents on the evening of Christmas Eve – instead of Christmas morning – as I had grown up doing when I was young.
Children naturally explore under a Christmas tree, having only their own memories of Christmas to fall back on in anticipation of the activities yet to come – that for them are still new and full of wonder.
For children the delight of wrapped presents sitting silently under a Christmas tree is a cause for them to explore all of the sights, colors and decorations – as well as the fragrance of a real Christmas tree to fuel their young imaginations.
How can a child possibly resist the attraction of a Christmas tree that spreads out above a field of brightly wrapped and decorated presents – each with a name on it that needs to be examined by little fingers ever so carefully.
David and his cousin were lucky to have known and grown up with their two great-grandmothers – seen here in this photo relaxing on the living room couch on Christmas Eve.
A child’s world is lived very much outside of the realm of their own direct control – Christmas Eve one day simply appears after an endless summer and fall of waiting on the calendar – like the sudden rush of a whirlwind…surrounding them in the wonder that is Christmas for a child.
A photograph of brightly wrapped and decorated presents, along with the decorations of the Christmas tree above them – with the natural green of the evergreen – delights the eye with a wonder that connects us all to distant childhood memories of days long ago.
David unwraps a present while his cousin looks on in the living room; and this chapter of our lives that we were now living in England, reflects the reality that our family often returned to Bruch for the familiarity of family holiday gatherings.
A fireplace always evokes feelings of warmth and coziness; creating an atmosphere of security that is core to our fundamental need of feeling safe and protected in life.
David shows his uncle a race car set that he received as a present on Christmas Eve, and the most important aspect of our trips back and forth to Bruch were the family ties that provided a temporary refuge from the rollercoaster life that we were then living.
My father-in-law inspects the gift bow and the small wooden nutcracker that decorated a present for him, carefully separating the bow from the figure and taking his time unwraping his gift on Christmas Eve.
The decorations of Christmas help to bring a sense of fullness to the Advent and the Christmas seasons, allowing us to explore a time that always brings us back to the real meaning of Christmas – that Jesus Christ was born in a manger as the Savior for a world needing reconciliation with God the Father…a world separated from the Father by a chasm of sin.
David relaxes with his uncle on the sofa at his aunt and uncle’s apartment in Bruch, enjoying the remaining holidays prior to our having to return to our new lives in England once again.