I remember as a child that I waited in great anticipation for Thanksgiving. It wasn’t about the fabulous turkey meal my mother would prepare, but about the decorating for Christmas that would begin the next day. I couldn’t wait for our Christmas tree to go up so we could decorate it and play Christmas music. My brother, sister and I would sing, decorate and drive our parents crazy with our horsing around and hanging too many ornaments on the same branch or in the same area. My dad would decorate the outside of the house and the lights and the Santa and the Nativity scenes would go up. We loved putting baby Jesus in the manger – which was one of our old dolls – as the final touch.
To this day, I can still feel the joyful anticipation as we prepared for our favorite holiday. I remember being so grateful to Jesus for being born and getting gifts so that we could get them too! Each Christmas carol that we played on our stereo added an exclamation point to Merry Christmas. We were all nicer to one another and did what we could to help around the house to earn extra brownie points for Santa to make up for any black marks on our list. Mom had told us several times when we misbehaved that Santa could surprise us with a stocking full of coal and that brought us back in line.
Then baking would start and my mom would make gobs, pumpkin, thumbprint, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. We would all gather around her and help her grind nuts or mix dough so that we could sneak samples. My mother had to keep careful accounts of whose turn it was to lick the beaters and bowl.
We would go to church and the anticipation would heighten because we were also remembering that Christmas over 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born. I remember feeling blessed that we could share in that event and loved singing Gloria in Excelisis Deo and would see if I could do it without having to take a breath. Celebrating Christ’s birth was so much fun! As I child, it was the only time I really enjoyed church. I tried not to think about why he was born. It made me sad that Jesus had to die for my sins. But I was glad that His Spirit was still alive and that I could feel His love for me.
Everywhere we went during the Christmas season there was the happy chatter, bright shiny decorations and “Merry Christmases” being exchanged. It seemed like back then everyone was in a good mood. The specialness of the season followed us around like a happy puppy.
To this day as I get my Christmas decorations out, I remember that feeling and I bask in it as I decorate to Christmas music. That’s the only time I seem to feel it any more. It’s so sad that our once joyful season has been commercialized and politically corrected to the point where the true meaning is lost and the specialness of the season is tarnished. Christ has almost been obliterated from the season that is named after Him.
To have the birth of Christ tied into our Christmas season gave the season an aura of awe and wonder that built as Christmas Day came near. It seemed that everyone allowed the celebration of the Christ child regardless of their true beliefs and cared enough about others to not ruin celebrations. There were very few people playing Scrooge destroying the ambience back then. The same cannot be said for today. Since it’s not politically correct, I must work harder to keep that joy and hope in my heart these days. It is my prayer that Christ is in your Christmas so that there is wonder and joy as we anticipate and celebrate that holy day of his birth.
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.” Luke 2:10-12