Yesterday, at work, I was washing some guy's ratty Santa wig and beard, and I thought to myself, "Gee this sure takes the magic right out of Christmas doesn't it?" And I thought about how much I genuinely hate the song, "Last Christmas" because it's so selfish and then I remembered how a few years ago, one of my friends from high school was saying that Christmas didn't excite him anymore. That it didn't really mean anything.
And I had to admit that this year, at least, I wasn't really feeling it either. At first, I blamed it on spending the first week of December in Florida (which was awesome by the way). As I thought of how I would have to stay a few extra days in Provo without my roommates so I could perform with the choir I'm in at the Institute at UVU, I dreaded it. I just wanted to be home with my family so it could feel like Christmas.
I went to the dress rehearsal of Lex de Azevedo's "Gloria" at the Provo Tabernacle on Thursday night, and it was so beautiful in there. I thought to myself, "Wow, this is Christmas. This is it. When we perform in here tomorrow, I'll really feel the Christmas spirit because it looks just like I think Christmas should look."
When I woke up the next morning to a text saying that the Provo Tabernacle had caught on fire, at first I thought it was a really stupid joke. Then as it became apparent that it had in fact happened, a mixture of feelings came to me. I shamefully admit that I felt some relief to think we weren't going to sing "Gloria" anymore. I felt sadness that something so beautiful could be destroyed in one night. I couldn't believe that the one place I thought I was finally going to feel the Christmas spirit was gone. I just wanted to go to Colorado and sit by the fire and Christmas tree in my family's house, in my own house where I've spent most of the Christmases of my life.
Word came that we were going to sing "Gloria" in a different venue and give people the option of donating to help people who lost things in the fire. I didn't really want to do it, but I've had a really good experience with this choir and I had agreed to spend my time rehearsing and performing with them. So I wasn't going to back out.
The Alpine Tabernacle is pretty enough, but it is nowhere near as stunning in my opinion as the Provo Tabernacle was. And there were no beautiful decorations, no cool lighting. Just the choir and the instruments and the audience.
As Lex de Azevedo addressed the audience and shared his feelings about what had occurred, he pointed out that although he felt sad that it was all gone, the fire could never destroy the music. That when all the flashy and fancy packaging was stripped away, the fire couldn't take what we had in our hearts. I'm not even totally sure that's exactly what he said, but that's what I heard.
Suddenly, as silly as it may sound, the words of Dr. Seuss came to mind from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." In the end, when the Whos join hands and sing, despite having their Christmas "stolen" from them, the Grinch realizes something:
"'It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!'
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
'Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'Means a little bit more.'"
Christmas isn't in the beautifully decorated trees or the holly or mistletoe. It's not in Santa wigs and beards. It's not in the hot chocolate and warm fire during a blizzard. It's not in the bells or department stores.
Christmas is the love we show our neighbors in remembrance of Him who loves us more than we can possibly imagine. It's in good friends who come to your choir concert and keep you company when otherwise you knew you'd be sitting at home all alone. It's in cheering up those lonely hearts of God's children, and reminding them that two thousand years ago a Child was born in a simple stable among the animals, a Child who would one day give His life for each and every one of us. Christmas is the Love of our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. And no material thing could ever take the place of that.
I love Christmas.