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Candle in the Night

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Merry Christmas for Me

This morning, I received an email from the American Family Association that included the "Naughty or Nice" list.  This list contains businesses that are "pro" Christmas, "anti" Christmas, and those that marginalize Christmas.  I know that Christmas in general has been marginalized whether people use the term "Christmas" or not.  The actual reason for Christmas has been so twisted about that as a fifth grade teacher, when I asked my students  what the reason for the Christmas holiday was, most of them had no idea.  (A little disclaimer here, we were discussing the beginnings of all American holidays.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Independence Day...  Not just Christmas.)

It is a sad world we live in where so many people can't tell you the story of Jesus' birth.  Not to mention His life, death, and resurrection.  Growing up, we celebrated Christmas with all the garlands, greenery, and gift giving that everyone else had, but since becoming an adult, I've realized that most people don't have the same associations to all those things as I do.  For us, each thing had a meaning.

The Nativity Scene would go up first and it was the focus of everything.  Set atop the entertainment center in the living room, it was not to be missed.  We were raised to know what was most important about Christmas.  As my sister and I (and later, my brother) unwrapped each piece, we would look at them in awe.  It was always exciting to see what would come out of the wrapping next.  A sheep?  A shepherd? Or perhaps the baby?  We'd take turns placing those pieces in the stable.  The wise men would go over in a different part of the room until about a week after Christmas.  Then, we'd move them to the stable as well to represent the time that lapsed between Jesus' birth and when the wise men arrived.  Since this was always the first part of the Christmas decorating, it really ingrained in me as a child the importance of the Christ Child.  The presents, the lights, the tree...they were all secondary.  The point of Christmas was the Child.  Our Lord and Savior come to Earth as a tiny babe in a manger.

After the the nativity was the tree!  I don't remember the discussion happening specifically, but I always remember thinking about how the tree pointed to Heaven.  Maybe those thoughts came from the story, The Three Trees.  I don't know, but the tree was always there to remind us to look to Jesus.  If you haven't read that story, read it here.  It's worth your time to read!  The evergreen tree also reminds us that Jesus came to earth and is living with us still.

The star at the top of the tree was like the star of Bethlehem.  It was a constant reminder that God led the wise men from afar, that He leads us still, and that Jesus is the light of the world.  In later years, our tree was adorned with an angel.  Of course, this always reminded us of the angel that came to the shepherds and told them they would "find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" and then proclaimed "Glory to God in the highest and on Earth, peace, goodwill to men!"

The lights on the tree were there to remind us of Jesus being a light for all mankind and the garland that beautified the tree made me think of the gold that the wise men brought.  The ornaments had many special meanings.  Some were just family heirlooms, some handmade, some just pretty ornaments collected over the years, but many of them held pictures of Jesus or a nativity scene.

I know that not all people agree with celebrating Christmas, and I'm sure they have good reasons.  Some don't agree with setting up a tree, or decorating with garlands, and some probably don't think it is right to have a nativity scene depicting the birth of Christ.  I have nothing against these people.  Mostly, I'm just sad for them.  What a thing to miss.  The wonder of Christmas has nothing to do with gifts or lights or trees.  The wonder of Christmas has everything to do with The Gift, The Light, The Life.  What a shame to push that out. To miss out on that joy.

So this Christmas, I will focus on Jesus.  I will remember the Gift He gave us on that night so long ago.  And as a side note, I'll support those stores that also proclaim Christmas.  Not "holidays" or whatever else they say.  Christmas.

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1 Comments:

At November 29, 2010 at 8:55 AM , Blogger Diane said...

You are amazing! Thanks for the reminders of all the good times. Yes, we did talk about all those things specifically, year after year while you were young... we didn't need to as time went by because it was a part of you, and I'm thankful for that. And I know you'll pass it along to your children!
P.S. I love you!

 

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