As Christmas approaches, the phrase ‘getting ready for Christmas’ evokes memories of Christmases past – not a Scrooge past – but a Wonder present. Each era of my life holds a different kind of celebration at Christmas with different emphases.
When I was a child, the preparation for Christmas included choosing a Christmas tree from a friend’s pasture in Oklahoma. I loved the ‘outdoor’ freshness of greenery that made its way through the house. I still have the blue bird that Dad and Mom gave me. It was a light bulb, long since burned out, but not the memory of the blue bird that lighted the tree, twinkling with joy. Dad and Mom told of their first Christmas together in the panhandle of Oklahoma. Dad brought in a tree from the field, but since there was no electricity, there were no lights. Dad surprised Mom by parking his car by the window. With wires strung from the car battery to the Christmas tree lights, Mom had her heart’s desire..
Preparations included cleaning the house, potato soup on Christmas Eve topped off with Peppernuts. Hearing The Christmas Story from Luke 2, while dressed in our ‘sleepers ready for bed’. We three children said our ‘pieces’ (poems about Christmas) for Church and on Christmas Eve. Christmas carols sung around the Christmas tree and prayer.
We learned early the delight of secrets when Dad bought Mom a clock for Christmas. He shared the secret with us and was so proud of such a fabulous gift to give his love. Dad checked it, and wound it up to set it and make sure it worked before he wrapped it and laid it beneath the tree. He cautioned us not to say a word. Mom told us later that she was sitting in the rocking chair by the tree in the quiet of the night…..and heard a ‘tick…tick…tick…” And she knew. Gifts were always a part of Christmas, but little did we know then, that the greatest gift was what we learned from our Dad and Mom – the joy of giving and being a family.
Then came the hustle and bustle of the teens with Christmas Bell songs and the Christmas Cantata at Church. Christmas became a melody of the business of learning new carols and singing my way through Christmas from O Holy Night to Gesu Bambini (Infant Jesus), Sweet Little Jesus Boy and The Hallelujah Chorus. My favorite part of the Christmas story were the angels saying Glory to God in the Highest!
After marriage in 1952, our celebration changed to include the wonder of Christmas made new in the eyes of our four children. One Christmas, as we sat around the Christmas Tree, my Dad began the Christmas story, and asked questions. I remember the awe I felt when our third son, Tim, could answer his questions about Jesus’ birth, when he was almost 4 years old.
As the years passed, Ed and I were alone to celebrate Christmas. The Christmas Eve Candlelight service took on new meaning. We celebrated Christmas two years ago by constructing a Christmas Cross for our front yard. No Christmas tree because of Ed’s allergies. But the Christmas Cross stays lit, as a testimony to our faith in Jesus, until after Easter. Last year I painted two scenes of Christmas as ‘decoration’ to put on display..
Christmas time is when music, food, decorations and lights, gifts and Christmas cards become uppermost in our minds. When there are more smiles on faces that we encounter on the streets.
As I thought about many who would call this a holiday and not Christmas, II realize that Christmas is not a holiday, a brief respite from the routine, but a forever celebration with a heavenly purpose.
God, in all his Might and Power, planned the first Christmas with care before the beginning of time. He provided the music of angels. He provided the decoration – the brilliant Star in the East. He provided the gifts from the Magi, who came from afar, of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
God sent the Message of all Time to the World. Why? God sent his only begotten and beloved Son to come, seek and save the lost. God sent the Light of the World – the Truth and the Way.
Our meagre earthly Christmas decorations cannot outshine the brilliance of the Light of the World. The verse that came to me, is that we look at the outer shell of man, but God looks on the heart.
May this Christmas we see the heart of God and His glory. May the wonder and mystery of God dwell deeply in our hearts. As we prepare for Christmas, may we also prepare our hearts to receive Jesus anew.
Luke 2:8-14 – And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
I Peter 1:3-5 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.