This is our first Christmas in a new town. That means that when we moved here in early summer, we thought we stored all our old Christmas "stuff" in the attic. The key word in the previous sentence is the word "thought." Oops!

We do not have lights on the house — I've had recent surgery to repair some damage from moving too many boxes and we can't find half of the lights anyway. We have a new tree — it's bigger, better and pre-lit while the old one was worn out and too heavy for me to lift out of the attic. The crisis came, however, when we couldn't find all the houses and decorations for my daughter's Christmas village. Pre-surgery and all, I stomped around in the attic looking at all the boxes a third time. Then there were the three piles of boxes to go through in the nooks and crannies of our garage — Donna checked out all of those boxes and also three closets of boxes. Still no Christmas village was found.

Our daughter would have been crushed if she had known. Putting the Christmas village up was her tradition. The little village was wonderful when it was finished with its buildings, streetlights, shops, people, and houses. How would we explain that in addition to moving away from her home that she had always known, we had also lost her most precious part of Christmas?

In one of those gifts of grace, a thought stirred in my muddled brain and I remembered the box in which I had packed those boxes for the Christmas village. I went back and found the floats for the sailboat at the top of the box, then the line cord for the sail rigging, and last of all, I pulled up the trailer license plate. There they were, right where I had packed them — under the lightweight sailboat stuff. What a relief! I was beginning to wonder if this Christmas was going to be buried in my old attic with a forgotten box of treasures we left behind.

Our daughter will come home tonight from college. Sometime this weekend, before you read this article, she will set up her Christmas village in front of our new super duper pre-lit tree as we celebrate Christmas in this new place for the first time. Would our Christmas have been ruined if we had never found those houses? No, it wouldn't have been ruined, but it certainly would have been damaged.

Little things are often much more than they appear.
Little things are often much more than they appear because they become encrusted with the joy and memory of past holidays. What may seem to be only a little trinket or an arcane tradition can be part of a holy memory for someone else. As we journey toward this time of stress and glory, let's also remember to bring a dash or two more of grace. Little things mean a lot to each of us in ways we cannot express. A little sensitivity, a lot of love, and a good spoonful of grace can help us past the "ouchies" of the season and help us find the people we love in the presence of our Savior whom we adore.

Grace to you for this special time and may the presence of the eternal God shine in your heart in the face of Jesus, his greatest gift of love. (See 2 Corinthians 4:6)