We asked two of our high school youth this holiday season to write about their ideal Christmas. We also asked them how God is a part of their Christmas.
By Katie McGuirl
Christmas celebrations in my family are always complicated. Appeasing both sides of my family and keeping the holiday fun is the ultimate juggling act.
My favorite Christmases were the ones I celebrated with all my cousins. A Christmas with cousins meant going to my grandparents’ house, loading all the presents and the dogs into the car, and driving to Lancaster on Christmas Eve morning. Once we arrived, chaos ensued, with 15 people figuring out where they would sleep in their small house. Arguments began over where people would sleep, and they always ending the same way. My cousin and I would sleep in the office on the pull-out couch. My sister and two other cousins would end up in my grandparents’ room on air mattresses, and my cousins Dean and Henry were on the floor in their parents' rooms.
Afterward, we would get ready for dinner, change into church clothes and sit down for fondue before church. The melted cheese would be placed in special metal pots lined up on the table, with bowls of bread and vegetables set around each pot. Some of my best memories are around my grandparents’ table, and Christmas Eve fondue is no exception. Every time I taste gruyere cheese, it reminds me of Christmas fondue and the conversations around the table. After dinner, we would pile into cars and head to church.
For me, this service is the second-best part of Christmas. The first was spending time with my family. Even though the church looked very different and the pastors and songs were different, there was always something special about how the service conveyed the same message and feeling. As such, God is a big part of my ideal Christmas.
Managing to get all 15 members of my family in the same place at the same time is no easy feat. As the cousins get older, it only gets more complicated for all of us to get together. As time goes on, those Christmases in matching PJs become memories, but the feeling is still the same.
By Peter McConnell
From the simple Advent wreath to singing "Silent Night" in a dark Sanctuary. From walking confidently out of the Sanctuary singing “Joy to the World,” knowing the Light of the World has conquered it all to seeing friends and family all throughout the season. All these things are parts of the puzzle of my ideal Christmas.
As the season progresses, I typically go to BMPC every Sunday, whether to worship in the Sanctuary or attend Youth Gathering. Every Wednesday I go to choir rehearsal to prepare for what is arguably the most significant service the Children and Youth Chorales participate in. Recently, there has been a new addition to my Journey to Christmas: the Evening Worship Service, a simple time to stop and reflect on the bustling season of Advent.
Amongst the busyness of the season, stopping to sing favorite Christmas carols, with or without company, is essential as taking time to stop, take a breath, and pause. For me, going to choir rehearsal during Advent has always been a beloved part of the season. Or, on the more energetic and chaotic side of the spectrum, is the fun-filled Rainbow Reindeer Games as the last major event of youth program this year. It's a colorful and fun experience for youth to connect one last time before seeing each other on Christmas Eve or in the New Year.
Finally, the grand finale! Christmas Eve is usually a pretty typical day for me. A little extra sleep, maybe a game of squash, or some last-minute gift shopping for a loved one. The excitement begins after lunch: finding my best clothes for the Christmas Eve Service, going to church early for a mid-afternoon choir and speaking rehearsal, and then the service starts. The 4:30 p.m. Family Service holds so many memories, speaking in front of a packed Sanctuary, each and every person holding up a candle singing “Silent Night,” or processing out of the Sanctuary singing “Joy to the World.” Then we go to my grandmother's house on my mom's side to enjoy a fun-filled evening before I go to bed in hopes of a promising Christmas morning. We anxiously run down the stairs to be sure Santa was nice to us, verified by gifts under the tree. Then we have a quick breakfast before opening gifts as a family.