Editor’s Note: DC Service Corps member, Nadia Barnett, reflects on the joy and love that stirs up in preparation for Christmas.

Tis’ the season of love. Forget Valentine’s Day. Love blooms at Christmas time.

Every year, I am always so excitable, filled with a simple, childlike joy that makes the countdown to Christmas one of the few things I gladly anticipate. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Call me sentimental but Christmas is pretty much the reason I prefer cold weather over hot: cold usually means winter, and winter means Christmas is coming. (Also, hot chocolate and warm sweaters and family time and reading, snuggled up under a few blankets – you get the point.)

There’s not really one thing about the holiday that I love the most, rather there are too many things I love about Christmas to really choose one.

At the Casa San Salvador, we have this small Christmas tree, sitting atop a desk in our living room. We had been talking about decorating the main floor for a few days, but I came back on Sunday and there it was. I couldn’t help but smile. The Christmas tree is decorated with an assortment of different ornaments – handmade and otherwise. It makes me smile because the little Christmas tree, makes me think of all the loved ones who gather around it to celebrate.

Christmas is a day to celebrate Jesus. On December 25th, Jesus comes to us and fills the whole of humanity with such a great, all-encompassing, perfect love. Love blooms, for me, most distinctly at Christmas time because I am so blessed and grateful for my family all the time, but it’s becoming harder to have family time. It’s difficult to describe how marvelous it is to be with all of them in the same place.  

Family time would be at the top of list of what makes Christmas so special to me. My family always spends Christmas together. There are three moment during Christmas where I am positive I can feel my heart swell. The first is waking up and going downstairs to see my mom and my two older sisters as we sit around our (now plastic) Christmas tree in our pjs. This moment is particularly special given our individual paths, each of us have now taken. Both of my sisters are now married, I am living in DC as a part of DC Service Corps, and my mom spends most of her time taking care of newborn babies in the NICU. Even now, as my days get busier and jam-packed with end-of-year assignments and activities, I am happily anticipating seeing all of their lovely faces (and my niece, and my two brothers-in-law) on Christmas morning.

Then there’s the moment on Christmas when I see my grandparents. Now, my grandparents deserve a special shout out because they are truly one of the greatest blessings I have to thank God for and celebrate on this day of love. Also, seeing them on Christmas typically means all of us are going to see the rest of my family for Christmas dinner.

Lastly, there’s the moment after Christmas dinner when we’re all sitting together, basking in each other’s company. I am thankful for this wonderful day to gather together with my loved ones to celebrate love itself. It’s a unique kind of nourishment for my soul that is indescribable. On this precious day, for me, God’s love is most palpable.

As Christmas draws near, once again, I am already filling with holiday cheer. Christmas is a celebration; I have this bubbling anticipation of the love present at this celebration. Christmas is like no other day of the year. As we grow, birthdays aren’t necessarily spent together and other holidays are always missing a few too many faces to really come close to the greatness of Christmas. Furthermore, it isn’t just any celebration: this is God coming to me, to all of us. Every year, I feel like love blooms a little more to make room for my expanding love for all my loved ones – my beloved family I was gifted with, my found family, my friends and all Christians, all over the world, as we prepare to celebrate love.  

Reflection Question: What is your favorite part about the Advent season?