There is something really cool about spending Christmas in a totally new place. Everything is different, each experience is unique, and new is exciting.
On Christmas Eve the ear doctor, my father-in-law and I all went to down town San Jose to see the lights. We walked down the street toward the center of town with eager anticipation. I love to see a community come together to celebrate. I love snowmen and Christmas trees and presents.
As we rounded the corner I was thrilled to see the whole center square lit up with hundreds of Christmas trees. Different organizations from all over the city had decorated a tree for the festival. I loved seeing Girl Scout troop #317 decorate their tree with Popsicle sticks. And the boys and girls club felt candy canes and big bright colored lights really warmed my insides.
After taking in the tree-lined, Christmas-lit square we went into the big fancy hotel down town. They had a huge, life sized gingerbread house that filled the entire foyer with the warm, cozy, familiar cinnamon and clove scent. They had an electric train display which reminded me of my dad and our really cool electric train that circled my childhood Christmas tree.
We next walked over to the ice skating rink and I was astounded to see people ice skating under the protective cover of palm trees. I laughed out loud when I noticed the huddled group of Californians waiting for the snow machine to blow soap suds out on them.
As the evening was drawing to a close we decided to turn back and walk to our car. We paused for a moment outside a beautiful old Catholic cathedral. Inspired, the ear doctor suggest that we go in and see if there was any scheduled choral presentation for the evening.
As we walked in I was overwhelmed by how beautiful the building was. The cathedral had the typical floor layout of a large T. In the center of the space there was a large, shiny, round wooden altar. Instead of the typical straight rows of pews facing a stand, gleaming wooden chairs surrounded the altar in large, looping graceful circles. We noticed that a group of people were setting up sound equipment, so we decided to sit and wait for the presentation.
I sat in quiet wonder.
I looked around at the other people in the room. A complete mix of ethnic backgrounds were represented. I heard at least 4 different languages whispered between loved ones. All were seated, waiting quietly, taking a moment to recognize the real meaning for Christmas.
In that moment I forgot the trees, lights, bows, boxes, ice, snow and candy. I was totally overwhelmed with gratitude for the great intangible gifts I've been so blessed with in my life. I was blown away by the silent faith in the room. And I was once again reminded of the amazing capability that we humans have to believe, have faith and trust.
I truly felt the meaning of goodwill toward all men.