Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Leslie L. McKee | Spread the Christmas Joy


Spread the Christmas Joy

My favorite Christmas memory is not one specific event or Christmas. It is more of a tradition. Growing up, I spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ farm. I have many fond memories from my childhood, and my grandparents and Christmas traditions rank high on my list.

The Christmas plans always began the day after Thanksgiving, which is when we would put up the tree. To this day, that is one of my favorite things to do. Even as a child, I loved everything about it… especially turning off all the lights and watching the tree sparkle with the nativity set underneath. My favorite ornament was a little red barn. I always made sure to place it at eye level. In the days leading up to Christmas, my brother and I would help my gram make her delicious sugar cookies. We would line them up on the kitchen table and have various decorating stations. Of course, many of the cookies would get eaten along the way :-) I’d also play Christmas songs on the piano from a book my gram had had for years.

On Christmas Eve, my entire family would get dressed up and then bundle up and head to the small church my family had attended for years. The service was held early in the evening, and it always included a children’s choir and the telling of the Christmas story. However, my favorite part (which is one of my favorite parts of this tradition) was how the service ended. The church leaders would hand out little candles to everyone in attendance and dim the lights. Then, starting at the front of the church, one candle would be lit. That person would pass it on to the person beside them. This would continue until every candle in the church was lit. It was such a beautiful sight to watch. Once the final person’s candle was aglow, the pianist would begin playing “Silent Night,” which has always been my favorite Christmas hymn. It was such a peaceful yet reflective time, with the focus totally on the reason for the season: Jesus.

After service, we would head back to my grandparents’ house where we would sit on the floor by the Christmas tree and open our gifts. (We always opened gifts from Santa on Christmas Day, as he visited my grandparents’ house in addition to ours.) Before it got too late, my mom, dad, brother, and I would head home. We had to get to bed in time for Santa to visit!

My poppa died in 1996, but I think of him often (particularly on Christmas). While my gram is still alive, I moved away from my hometown years ago so it’s been quite some time since we’ve spent Christmas together. However, those Christmas traditions still live on in my life in some form. Every year, our tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving. A few years ago I found a ceramic Christmas tree just like my gram has (with lights and little bluebirds, plus a star on top). I play songs on my piano from the same book I used as a child (and it is still in great condition!). When we moved, my gram gave me my favorite ornament. I hang that red barn on our tree every year, and I still love “Silent Night.” While our church does not have the same “lighting of the candles” with the song, the memories/visuals are there every time I hear or sing the beloved hymn.

As an adult, I view Christmas a bit differently than I did as a child. Now, when I look at those lights on my tree and the angel high above, I cannot help but reflect on the lyrics:

Silent night, Holy night,
All is calm, all is bright…
Son of God, Love’s Pure Light…
Jesus, Lord at Thy Birth

Those lines from my favorite Christmas hymn pretty much sum it all up. Christmas is the time to reflect on the son of God, Jesus, Lord at his birth. However, with all the craziness and commercialism of the season, it is not always a silent night or holy night for many people. This year, take a few minutes to reflect on those lyrics and remember the true reason for the season: Jesus.
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I am a professional editor and reviewer, and books have always been a significant part of my life. I am a member of ACFW and have served as a judge for their First Impressions, Genesis Awards, and Carol Awards contests. I am also a member of The Christian PEN, where I serve as part of their newsletter editorial staff.

I have been reviewing since 2005, primarily for RT Bookreviews Magazine. In 2015, I began reviewing for Publisher’s Weekly. Since 2012, I have been professionally editing and proofreading manuscripts for authors and publishers. My lifelong love of reading and learning, in addition to reviewing and teaching, led me into the publishing industry. Editing and reviewing are not merely jobs. They are my passions.

In my editing, I strive to provide quality services to values-based authors and assist them on their literary journeys. In my reviewing, I aim to provide an honest review and do all I can to promote the author and their work. I want to help readers obtain books that will entertain, educate, inform, and inspire them. I also want to help writers shine while spreading their message.

You can learn more about my editorial and proofreading services on my website: lmckeeediting.wix.com/lmckeeediting. You can also find me at my blog: lmckeeediting.blogspot.com.

Handmade Christmas towel! Keep for yourself or give as a gift.