When I was 11 or so, my dad and I sold Christmas trees out of the front yard of our house. It was big business for me, I loved it. We went to a tree farm and cut down the trees and hauled them home. I remember dragging them through snow and wet grass to the truck to haul them to the house. The smells of fresh pine as well as the tar stick with you and fill your memories. The smell of fresh pine still causes waves of nostalgia of Christmas’s past.
Then as I got older and the arguments of Christmas raged in Christian circles, it kind of lost its shine, its glow, its mystic. The arguments of pagan rituals, secular parties, hidden meanings all clouded the joy of childhood. I even went through a phase of having no tree which my wife and children delivered me from after a year or two of complaint and reality. For all the “truth” I had become somewhat of a religious Scrooge.
When I was a kid, I did not even think of such things. It was about mangers, pageants, wise men in bathrobes, kids dressed as sheep, angels with halos drooping, and lines forgotten and the fun of it all. Christmas was opening a present from Grandma I knew she could not afford. It was making gifts that were only useful for setting on the shelf as a memorial of a kid trying to be artistic. It was not a ton of gifts, but one gift that you had hoped for and maybe a couple of other gifts that were practical, like socks. It was running the electric train around the tree, having dinner with family and enjoying the day. It was the lights and festivities. These are the precious moments that are too lightly taken at the moment, but somehow build a palace of memories. Candlelight service at church was quiet and reverent. You could feel the awe of the new born savior.
Later, Christmas became more about the children as our family grew. Instead of me being the one to ask mom and dad to get up; it was I who was being jumped on early Christmas morning as the kids were full of excitement.
Christmas continues to change as the years pass. Now, it is just my wife and I on Christmas morning. No one wakes us. We enjoy our time together and then celebrate Christmas with the family on another day. We decided years ago that we would not make the holidays a battle for our children with divided allegiances with in-laws. We said that it was being together that counted, not the exact day.
So, now our memories are made on a day sometime following Christmas day. But there is still the joy of having family together, there is still the sharing of gifts, and there is gratefulness of the gift God gave to us in his Son.
Oh, the arguments are still out there. Sure, Jesus was probably born in the month of March, and yes, the tree had history in Norse traditions. Do I want to give up Christmas? No.
This is the opportunity to celebrate the virgin birth, this is the opportunity to marvel at the miracles surrounding his advent. This is a time when people are kinder, softer, and a little more open to hear the love of God expressed in the child who would die for them.
So, my wife has the tree up already. It is lit with several hundred lights. She loves Christmas. The decorations will slowly come out over the next few weeks and will slowly return to storage after Christmas and not be totally put away until, probably March.
We decided to do an Advent calendar again this year. In the midst and push of the holidays with Black Fridays and sales galore, I thought it might be nice to add a devotional side to things and keep things a little more simple.
So, I am all for Christmas. I think we should build every fond memory we can. I think we should embrace our children and grandchildren. I think we should honor our parents and indelibly write memories of these Christmas’s in our hearts.
Even though the season has gifts, our primary concern should be focused in the people we love and the savior who loved us beyond our greatest comprehension.