It was the fourth of December—a wintry day for me as I walked home from my 6th grade classroom in my baggy stonewashed jeans and white Stussy sweatshirt. It was slightly foggy still from the morning, and on that stroll home, I remember observing the front lawn Christmas decorations of neighbors and the hanging lights waiting for the night, so they could shine brightly.
My cozy house was mostly decorated already by my mom, and I enjoyed the free time I often had as a child. I was lying on the couch in the living room with the television on softly as I observed the hanging Christmas carousel horses that hung over our fireplace and played music when you switched them on.
The home phone rang. I heard my mom cry out from my parents’ bedroom.
My dad came in and told me someone just called and said my aunt Lana was dead.
I looked at the nativity set on the curio cabinet. I walked over and picked up the baby Jesus figure out of the manger, held it up, and whispered, “Please God, no.”
My family decided it would be best to rent a cabin that Christmas up in the mountains near Frazier Park; it was too much being in a place filled with memories of Christmases before.
About a week after Lana’s death, I was at my nanny and papa’s house with my parents and sister. My nanny became overwhelmed with hurt and sadness and walked out the front door crying. My papa quickly followed. We then all followed her out into the cold.
We stood there for some time in the front yard. Hurting together. In the cold. With no words to say.
I just stood looking down, not knowing what to even hope for now—no light up ahead.
Then my Nanny pointed up and said, “Look at that star. It’s getting bigger.”
We looked up at it, and sure enough, it was getting bigger before our very eyes. Not a plane or helicopter—it was most definitely a star.
It continued to grow.
Bigger and bigger.
My family stood in awe as we looked upon the largest star we ever saw in our lives. My nanny said, “God just told me that Lana is with him in heaven.”
An unexplainable peace came over all of us, and all tears ceased.
The star then regressed back into its regular size until it vanished among the twinkling chilly sky.
We went back into the warmth of the house amazed by what we just saw—something supernatural.
I remember my nanny telling me she saw the star again about a week later in the same exact way, and with it, she had peace again.
A few days before Christmas, we were all at the cabin my family rented. My sister and I found a little snowy hill to sled down, and we even built a snowman with my dad as my nanny watched from the patio with my mom and papa all bundled up in warm clothes.
That Christmas Eve, the reality of my aunt not being there with us hit hard, especially for my nanny. Lana would never be with us again; Christmas would never be how it once was.
Dabbing her eyes with a napkin until it was rolled up in a little ball, my nanny eventually walked outside in the nighttime snow with my papa shortly behind her.
We didn’t know what to do; we were all hurting too. Then, in her serious voice, we heard my nanny call out, “It’s happening again! Come look, the star’s back!”
I was looking at it, but it was hard to believe what I was seeing—the same star growing right before our eyes again. Brighter and brighter!
And then… peace.
And our Christmas Eve was there.
In the snow.
With the Christmas star.
Looking up, my nanny commented, “God just said we’ll see the star no more.” It shrunk back to its regular size and vanished into the hundreds of other stars in the crisp, cold, Christmas sky.
We went back into the cabin, not happy, but not without hope either; we knew God was there with us in our sorrow.
Christmas is often a time of sorrow because the people in life change, leave, and even die.
The snowy scenes on Christmas cards no longer mirror the present. Our busy, unsure, messy lives don’t feel like the Christmas endings in Hallmark specials. The songs of the season are beautiful, but they almost feel out of place.
And that’s okay because there’s still hope because there is Christ.
There’s still joy because there is Christ.
There’s still life because there is Christ.
The shepherds understood this as they left their regular routine to worship a child in a manger. They spent Christmas glorifying and praising God.
With all the decorating the house and putting up a tree, driving around looking at wonderful displays of lights, and watching classic Christmas movies, let’s not forget to glorify and praise the one who brought us hope. The one who enables us to have joy. The one who promises everlasting life.
Remember those past Christmases. Cherish them. Even miss them. But glorify and praise God.
Praise him like the shepherds. Praise him like the angels. Praise him like the wise men. Hold Christ up high in this cold wintry season, and glorify his name, just like the first Christmas.