A couple lambs telling the Christmas Story in 2008
When I was a child, Christmas was one of the most magical times of the year. We didn't have much money, but as I mentioned before, our parents made it special.
We sometimes didn't get a Christmas tree until the 24th and when they were all marked down. Our decorations were a mix of school projects and some very old glass ornaments. Mom made fruit cakes and candy as well as other goodies throughout the month. Gifts were not put under the tree, but hidden away in Mom and Dad's clothes closet until a few days before Christmas.
We kids did not fiddle or shake the presents as much as my dad did. He really loved Christmas!
Believing in Santa Claus was even more magical because, my parents had an explanation for every sighting of him on the news. We left him carrots and cookies and he left us notes. Apparently, Santa Claus was not always able to get the exact thing on your list but he would always find something else to give you.
The Christmas Season always started after Thanksgiving. It wasn't the promise of some amazing deals that you had to get up before the chickens and camp out in a store parking lot for. There was a clear separation of the two holidays. Families enjoyed each occasion without the pressures of finances or or guilt-ridden advertisements.
My thoughts for this season is keeping everything simple. My grandchildren are getting (1) wow gift and two practical ones. My grown children may only get a stocking gift and some help with their own children's Christmas.
It isn't the size of the price tag that should be important, but the love that comes with the gift. With the noise of TV Commercials; the temptation of electronic gadgets or the must have clothing items; we give hours of contemplation to the purchase of the perfect gift and very little time to the Ultimate Gift.
The Ultimate Gift is Jesus of course. He has brought hope and healing to millions of families for over 2,000 years. He lived His life pretty simply and never demanded the best of everything. He was willing to wash his disciple's feet and feed the multitudes with a few loaves and fishes.
A simple deed meets the sorest need in these turbulent times. Even during the time of war, there have been stories of soldiers on opposing sides sharing Christmas Carols in a temporary truce.
Our country's sorest need today is compassion and empathy. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture on each of our parts, but the quiet giving of a $20.00 bill in a handshake at church or on the street. Giving a new mother a much needed break to do her own Christmas Shopping. Or buying new blankets for a shelter or whatever else comes to your heart.
It is your heart that needs the warmth of giving so that it will not grow cold and hard.
In the Kansas City Area for nearly 20 years; A Secret Santa visited people on the streets; in stores, laundromats and bus stops. He would give these people hope, love and a $100.00 bill. It wasn't until he passed away a couple years ago, that anyone knew his identity. He wasn't a wealthy man, but had given away approximately $20,000 in cash each Christmas for over 20 years.
I encourage you all to remember that Charity is the Pure Love of God and comes from the heart and not your checkbook. All those must-have gadgets find their way to thrift stores and yard sales. Toys are played with and broken and clothing sometimes gets pushed to the back of the closet.
The Holiday Season begins when we let go of the expectation of the material things and enjoy the anticipation of families being together. It is singing the old familiar hymns and watching the children perform their programs in church and at school.
May all of us feel that wonder and excitement that the lowly shepherds felt on a special night over 2,000 years ago when they heard the Angels sing. Hug your loved ones and hold them tight. Our opportunities to express our love is only limited by our willingness to do so.
Please make a place in your home for the True Meaning of Christmas. Set an extra plate at the table to feed the stranger who comes to your door. You might just be entertaining an Angel unaware.