Ornament of Grace

Ornament of Grace
December 18, 2017

Why I Love Christmas

Editor’s Note: This article was printed in Far Above Rubies several years ago. While I am no longer in this stage of life, many of you readers are. To these mothers I say, “Do you understand the privilege you possess to mold and shape young lives?” Do your best and do it joyfully! Be diligent to keep your priorities in balance. I know parenting is a lot of work, but may I encourage you to also take the time to enjoy life with your little ones? Voice your love and appreciation to your children, and be thankful for your husband, too. Life is in a constant state of change. Joy in your home is more valuable than any gift or trinket. The opportunities you have today may be gone tomorrow. Your life will never again be exactly as it is right now… Take the time to make beautiful memories this Christmas!

It’s true. I do love this time of year. It can be a lot of work, but generally, I enjoy the various stages of cleaning, polishing, and decorating, that are necessary to, once again, have occasion to “deck the halls.” The holidays provide the incentive to do some of those extra things I don’t normally do at other times of the year. For example, I love to hang garland and big, red bows on white porch rails, and wreaths on doors and windows. I find it relaxing- almost therapeutic- to arrange evergreen boughs in baskets, with pine cones, gold balls, and ribbon.

Maybe you’ll think I’m weird, but I love to clean light fixtures, candle holders, and other glassware, to make them shimmer as they reflect the twinkling lights from a nearby Christmas tree. (I’ll let you in on my “secret:” I just pop the glass or crystal pieces into the dishwasher, and…voila!…sparking clean, every time!)

Every year, I get excited all over again, when I dig out box after box of Christmas ornaments! (Okay, okay, I confess. I have a real weakness for Christmas decorations. As a result, tree ornaments are typically the only souvenirs I ever buy when we travel.) The tree trimmings we have collected on family trips, over the years, cause me to be flooded with mental images, funny anecdotes, and warm feelings, as every Christmas, I relive happy times I’ve had with those I love so much. In addition, it’s always such fun to open taped up boxes and pull out things like a tiny pair of glass slippers, labeled “Emily’s 1st Christmas,” for instance, or miniature trumpets, violins, and saxophones, and then look to find just the right spot for each one on the tree.

If you know me very well at all, you know which are my MOST favorite ornaments. It’s those “assorted objects” made by chubby little hands of long ago…or was it only yesterday? *sigh*

I guess it’s the atmosphere of Christmas I enjoy so much. This time of year, there is just something special- almost magical- about being inside with your family, near a freshly-trimmed tree and a crackling fire, all the while looking out through a frosted window pane at the snow-covered winter landscape. (Call me overly-sentimental, if you must, but the aforementioned scene gives me an extreme case of instant, warm fuzzies!)

While it’s true that the snow, the decorations, and twinkling lights all add to the aura and feeling of the season, those things alone are not the reasons I love Christmas. It certainly is not the giving or receiving of expensive gifts, or the feasting upon delectable foods, which makes this time of year so special to me, either. No, no, it’s really not anything material at all. It’s not about THINGS. No matter how else I try to define it, in my heart, somehow, it seems as though Christmas and family mean virtually the same things. I can’t seem to separate the two.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Certainly, it’s true that if He had not come as the Babe in a manger, we would have no reason or opportunity to celebrate His birth- or anything else, for that matter. It’s because He came, and because I and the members of my family have accepted Him as our Lord and Saviour, that we can experience the depth of love and joy that we do. I’m sure many of you can say the same thing. What a difference the presence of the Lord makes in a family and in a home!

Think of it this way: if He had not come into our lives to free us from the burden of sin- if not for His unconditional love, extended to us- we, in turn, would not know how to really love each other. My family very well could be like so many others, out in the world, filled with shallow- or worse- broken relationships, heartache, and strife.

The love of God, demonstrated on Calvary’s Cross, when accepted in the human heart, will in due time, teach mankind how to truly love one another. That’s the ONLY way we’ll ever know!

 

I guess I always become a bit more reflective during the holiday season, because it’s the end of another year, and I tend to look back over my life, reminiscing about all that the Lord has done. This was just the sort of mood I was in the other day, when I found myself pausing while dusting my wall collage of family pictures in the upstairs hall. I don’t really know how much time elapsed while I lingered, lost in thought, remembering the days, events, and situations portrayed in the snapshots and photos hanging there- all 153 of them, to be exact! I saw several pictures of myself (Do I really look that different, now?) holding my babies. I can still remember how they felt in my arms. There was one photo of my dear husband looking down on his infant son, Ethan, and another with his arm around Seth at 6 years of age, and minus a few teeth! (I think their dad looks the same, except that his hair color has changed since those days!) As if it were only yesterday, once again, I felt tears in my eyes and on my cheeks, just as I did in the picture of me hugging my three little boys on that Mother’s Day so long ago. Those little boys just do something to my heart!

As I stood there, I was carried away to a different time and place, when I noticed the photo of me with my newborn baby girl. Back then, I remember thinking it felt a lot like I was dressing a little doll, when I would get her ready to go out, especially after all those years of dressing little boys!

I’ll confess to feeling a wave of fatigue sweep over me when I looked at the snapshot of three little boys in their “jammies,” giggling, arms wrapped around each other, sitting under the Christmas tree! Whew! They were active in those days! I could almost feel the energy radiating from that photograph!

As I continued my unplanned stroll down “memory lane” that afternoon, I smiled as I went from one photo to another. So many of a silly little girl doing silly little things, like sitting under an umbrella, arms full of dolls, while wearing huge, pink, heart-shaped sunglasses! I guess the classic “mischievous” picture in our collection has to be the one of Emily and Ethan, caked with mud from head to toe. What a surprise I had, answering the doorbell that afternoon! (Emily was only about 4 at the time, so you know who put her up to it!)

There were many father-son pictures of fishing and hunting excursions; others of recitals, graduations, and weddings; family times around the piano or the dinner table; just a varied assortment of snippets from the life we’ve been living and the love we’ve been sharing for so many years, now.

After awhile, my thoughts began to stir, and I returned to the reality of the moment. I stepped back and then happened to glance up. Above all the photos was a small, stenciled sign I had momentarily forgotten about. It read, “Families are Forever.” With a tear in my eye, I went about finishing up my tasks that afternoon. While I worked, my heart was stirred as I thanked the Lord for all the blessings He has bestowed upon our family over the years. We understand fully that whatever good things we enjoy and experience are because of His goodness and mercies. There is no such thing as a “perfect family,” but we certainly have a very blessed family, as do many of you.

The Lord has truly given us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue,” II Peter 1:3.

During this Christmas season- this “family” time of year- even if we don’t have all of our needs met in particular human relationships, I hope each of us will reflect upon what we DO have in Christ. God created us with a need for a family- a place to belong; a place to connect; a place to form soul-deep bonds that last throughout the years.

If you are God’s child, you have that place, and according to the Scriptures, our spiritual family IS forever! So many saints have closer ties with their brothers and sisters in Christ, than they do with their own flesh and blood. Our place in God’s family is a gift. We didn’t do anything to earn it, and we can’t do anything to keep it. We cannot fathom why the God of the heavens even offers it to us. All we know is that He loves us just because He loves us! His love is always unconditional.

Human relationships inherently reflect the flaws and shortcomings of our sinful nature. That must be at least one reason why these encouraging verses are found in the Bible.

Psalm 27:10- When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

II Corinthians 6:17-18- …I will receive you, And will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

I know why I love Christmas so much. It’s because I’m reminded, all over again, of what the Lord has done for me in so many areas of my life. God has blessed me with so many dear family members, both physical and spiritual. As I gather with many of them again, this holiday season, I plan to voice, more often, those three little words: I love you. They’re sure to change a mood, lift someone’s spirit, and bring a smile.

I hope you’ll do the same.

Merry Christmas!