Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Christmas Means to Me…

One of my earliest memories of Christmas happened when we were living in Indiana. One evening my parents went into their room to wrap our Christmas gifts and we kids, all six of us, clustered as close to their door as we could without getting into too much trouble. One or two of us climbed into the rocking armchair, leaning dangerously over the back, and in our excitement it tipped over. There were just so many exciting sounds coming from our parents’ room we could hardly stand it!

Needless to say Mama and Daddy didn’t get much peace on Christmas morning with six kids trying to get them up so we could unwrap our gifts. Finally they came up with the brilliant idea of allowing us to open one, and only one, gift Christmas Eve. That placated us for a while… Eventually even that turned into opening ALL our gifts on Christmas Eve, and we would have a party. Soon certain foods were expected each year. Foods such as Cheerios Nuggets (yes, it was the 70s). Or Christmas cookies with slopped on icing; just how well do you think kids under 12 decorate cookies? Ummm…one year someone got a spanking because I counted the cookies and there weren’t as many as we thought there should be, but I don’t want to talk about that right now. We had ginger ale and lime sherbet punch. No presents could be opened until we were ALL finished eating. Now that was really rotten because the food was great, but the anticipation of opening those presents was almost greater.

There were always loads of presents under the tree! One year my parents bought each of my brothers a tool box -- yep, a REAL tool box -- and filled them with Legos. That was back when you had to use your imagination to create things from Legos. Then one year they bought us Hungry, Hungry Hippo! I don’t know what possessed them to buy that game, it was soooo loud. Back to those Legos. I’ll admit it, I was jealous. I wanted some, too!

Living up North it was expected that there would be snow on the ground, and a lot of it, for Christmas. This meant sledding. There were too many of us to have our own sled, so Daddy made sleds out of paneling and we’d put the slick side down and race around. Boy, was it ever fun to go flying down hills! Dare I tell you the hills I’m talking about were the clover leafs on the highway? We weren’t the only ones using them for sledding, I promise you! We would come home soaked clear through our socks and long johns.

Now that we are grown things aren’t much different, unless you count that there is no snow here in the South for Christmas. We still celebrate on Christmas Eve. Instead of six of us kids, we have grown to twenty-something of us plus whatever extended family might be visiting. There is always fun in the chaos, and believe me there’s a lot of chaos when we all get together!

But in the midst of all our frivolity we remember the most important part of Christmas, the true reason we celebrate. The birth of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Can you imagine what it might have been like to be around when Jesus was born? What about if you could have been one of the shepherds or one of the wise men, or if you could have been like Anna or Simeon who both waited in the temple until they were able to see the Messiah? What if I could have been one of His younger brothers or sisters? Would I have realized Who He is? Would I have chosen to follow Him? Would I have followed Him just because of His miracles, or because I believed He was the Messiah, the sacrificial Lamb, the only One Who could forgive me of my sins? John 3:16 is a verse we all know, “For God so loved the world, that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I also remember Romans 2:8-9 which says, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the GIFT OF GOD, not of works lest any man should boast.” Christmas means…Jesus!


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