Does your family have any special Christmas traditions? Perhaps you make cookies for all your friends at the holidays. Or maybe you volunteer at a soup kitchen, or buy a present for a kid who doesn't have as much as you do.
My family has lots of different traditions, but one of my favorites is an arts and crafts project that anyone can do.
When my parents were first married, they had hardly any ornaments for their Christmas tree. So they decided to make their own - out of gold cord and colored glue.
They made different shapes out of the gold cord, setting pieces of it on plastic wrap and gluing them together to make circles, diamonds, you name it. Sometimes they also made shapes inside the shapes - stars, swirls, even letters of the alphabet. Then they let these outlines dry. A day or two later, they used bottles of glue (dyed different colors with food coloring) to fill in the outlines.
My parents let their ornaments dry for a few days before peeling them off the plastic wrap and punching holes in the top of each one, using ornament hooks. Then they hung their creations near the lights on the Christmas tree.
Before the lights were turned on, the ornaments looked a little dull. But suddenly, with the light, they began to twinkle. It was like having a tree covered in stained glass windows. There was color and sparkling light everywhere.
When my sister and I were old enough, my parents taught us how to make these ornaments, too.
Growing up, I always thought our Christmas tree was the prettiest, with its ornaments that cast glittering rainbows all around. I couldn't wait to turn the lights on every night as soon as it got dark. There was nothing more wonderful than our Christmas tree's colorful glow lighting up the corner of our living room.
When I think about these ornaments now, they're special to me because they remind me of my family's creativity and love. But they also remind me of something else: the Christ, the true reason for Christmas.
I like to imagine these ornaments as a way of thinking about all the different people in the world, in all their different colors and uniqueness. But, just like my family's Christmas ornaments, what we need is light to see all that is true and right about each person and the real beauty that is there.
The light takes the focus away from little imperfections. In the case of the ornaments, it might keep us from thinking about a place where two colors ran together. In the case of friends and family, it helps us see what's right about a person, even if he or she isn't acting so nicely.
Just as the lights on the tree help to show us the true beauty of each ornament, looking for the good in everyone we meet helps us see each person for who he or she really is. This light, this goodness reflected in each person, is the Christ.
Jesus was the man who gave us the best example of Christ. He knew his own godliness, and he showed it all the time. This is what Mary Baker Eddy was talking about when she explained that the Christ was Jesus' "divine nature, the godliness which animated him" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 26).
This is the same godliness that makes you and me good. It's what makes us helpful and loving, talented, and fun to be with, just the way God made us. After all, as Science and Health explains later, "... the Christ is without beginning of years or end of days" (pg. 333). That means that the Christ didn't just disappear once Jesus wasn't around anymore.
It also means we don't have to wait until Christmas to celebrate the light in each of us. We can celebrate it every day, just by seeing what's good about every person we meet.
Even after the Christmas tree comes down, and my family's glue-and-cord ornaments are put away, I know that the light and color that make Christmas so special never really disappear. The Christ - the true light and color of Christmas - is with me always. It can be with you the whole year, too.