It’s That Time of Year again. Christmas preceded by Thanksgiving. I like that particular order – speaking for myself, spending a day focused on giving thanks is the perfect way to enter into the days leading up to Christmas. As a Christian, I am eternally grateful for Christmas (which leads up to Easter…but that’s another season and another post) because it’s the day of the year that we celebrate the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The meaning of Christmas has changed for me over the years depending on my season of life. When I was a child, it was magical and I looked forward to it very much. I didn’t come from a family of tremendous financial means and so it was never a lavish affair. We didn’t have a formal dining room with fine china brought out just for the occasion, a roaring fire in the fireplace, a twenty-foot tree in the great room with shiny presents spilling out from under its branches, and parties every weekend. The homes I grew up in were composed more of single-wide trailers or apartments. What I did have was a mother and stepfather who loved me, a sister, and close family around for most Christmases. Some Christmases were sparse at best while others made my eyes as large as saucers because I got the brand new bike or EasyBake oven I so desperately wished for. My childhood Christmases were about presents, the smell of pine, twinkly lights, and really good food.
As a young adult, Christmas was often disappointing to me. I thought it was never quite good enough compared to The Ideal presented in every commercial, television program, and greeting card. Intellectually, I knew they were just sets and not real, but I still felt like I could never quite measure up to what it was supposed to be like. I was sure everyone else did it better than I. Then one Christmas I was sitting on the sofa and glancing around at our little duplex in base housing. My husband was at work (of course) and I had just put our three-year-old daughter to bed. It was just me and the cat. My eyes spanned the family pictures on the wall which led directly to the Christmas tree that still twinkled like I remembered from childhood. The smell of pine was missing because we had chosen a reusable faux tree. It was cheaper. Under it were enough presents to fill the gap. My gaze continued on and landed on my book bag resting against the wall by our front door. You see, I was enrolled full time at a local private university that cost more per year in tuition than my husband made as a member of the military. But it was paid for because I earned my GI Bill. I was very close to graduation. Our house was clean, warm, safe, and filled with everything I could possibly want or need – a husband who loved me, a healthy child, food in the fridge, and the promise of a very bright future. At that moment, the disappointment I felt every year for not having The Ideal Christmas disappeared in the light of truth. That feeling of inadequacy has never surfaced again. Christmas is not a competition. It’s a celebration.
Now, my children are teenagers with that little three-year-old girl turning twenty-three soon. We have intentionally never focused Christmas on “things”, but rather on what Christmas really means to us – love, family, and relationships. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die for our sins, we are adopted into the family of God when we accept the sacrifice of His Son, and God restores us into right relationship with Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus. That’s what Christmas means to me.
We do buy gifts for each other but never go into debt for it. Christmas comes at the same time every year. So in our earlier years when money was tight, we saved a little every month during the year in order to pay cash for the presents. We have no financial hangovers come January. We also remind our children that the gifts we give them represent the ultimate Gift of Jesus Himself.
This is controversial for some, but in our family, we have never done the whole Santa thing. We are Christians and there are enough things in our society to detract from the name of Jesus that we don’t feel it’s appropriate to distract even further by supplanting what CHRISTmas is all about.
I hope that you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Keep it simple or lavish, but whatever you do I hope you remember the Reason for the Season.
This entry is my final adieu in this blog. It’s been fun sharing bits of myself with all of you. I have enjoyed my time here and found the Crew to be a great team full of grace and knowledge. God bless you all on your writing journey.