Even the holiday decorations, the alleged "spirit of Christmas," the holly, the ivy, the candles, lights and candy canes, the red and the green, the gifts AND Santa and Christmas movies --all part of a glorious celebration that GOD HAS VISITED THE PLANET --AND CAME AS A BABY BOY! AND SO WE LIVE FOREVER! And the world rejoices --it PARTIES! It feels altruistic/generous--and the secularist doesn't even understand why it's so thoroughly enjoyable! even though he may feel it, too!
Or is it so enjoyable for everyone? Are there many for whom Christmas is a disappointment because of fractured families, alienated children and parents? domestic violence, drunkenness and poverty? Do some stand on the outside looking in wistfully, because the joy doesn't quite reach them? Or because they stopped believing?
Christmas for me was always magical --and we were not at all wealthy when I was a child. But I didn't know it. We had enough to eat, clothes enough, kept warm, and there would be at least 2 wonderful toys for each of us under the tree --and a sock full of little things: always a bottle of coke, an orange and/or apple, a Hershey bar, toothpaste, toothbrush, a pack of gum, and other little things. So it wasn't about wealth and materialism --it was about happiness--family happiness --doting Daddy, responsible Mom. Visiting Grandparents and other family members. Daddy and I would lie on the floor, with our heads under the REAL tree with its evergreen fragrance; we'd look at the lights and our faces reflected in the ornaments while the radio played Christmas music. And sing the carols.
There was always music! When my father's family gathered, Mom or I played the piano, Dad and/or I on trumpet, Mom and Uncle Bob on violins, Ron and cousin Jean singing or with Kazoo/instruments, or wax paper covered combs --(sing through them and it makes an instrumental sound with a buzz! ) and we had jingle bells and other relatives singing.
Christmas meant feasting on turkey and mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with pecans and marshmallows --and Mom's good pies. And always the lime sherbet punch (no better Christmas punch than lime sherbet with 7 up. We actually used Ginger ale, but it's not as pretty to look at with the green sherbet. With ginger ale, I call it "river bottom punch." )
One tradition we had on my father's side of the family, which my family has continued, was to sit in a circle, pass out all the gifts, and then go around the circle, taking turns opening the gifts one by one. Each person was "on stage, in the limelight" for a short time with his gift. Gifts of limburger cheese and exotic canned delicacies of dubious nature were occasions of much clowning around --these usually came from Uncle Bob (who had his PhD and supervised PhD candidates in history and philos. of ed. for secular uni's. ) This way of doing the gifts took HOURS and extended the holiday fun for all it was worth!
Later on, family caroling to anyone who would listen became a beloved activity especially for me. Fortunately, I married a man who loved to sing and could sing --with the voice of an angel! Oddly, I don't think my children love to sing just for the fun of singing --as my parents' and I did. It was entertainment for us on car rides, especially. But they are the really good singers. I hope to get them on my website one of these days!
Happy Advent Season to all of you and yours! The Holland Free Methodist Church on Angola Road in Holland, Ohio, is making beautiful music. Our cantata is Dec. 18 and 20, 7 pm and our Christmas Eve Service is 6 pm.
"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible