When I think of Christmases of my childhood, it is strange what I remember. I remember gazing through the window into the darkness. That cozy, homey feeling from five decades ago still lingers as I see the blackness of the ice-frosted windows.
I remember the Santa mom always had on the front door, with large big colorful lights surrounding its silhouette. I remember my brother Steve popping popcorn. He would pour it into a cake tin, then smother it with butter. I remember my sister, Brenda, sitting Indian style, with her hair in curlers, eating ice cream.
As far as presents go, I only remember a few. One, however, stands out in my memory beyond the others. There would not be a ton of presents under the tree. Usually, a pair of pants and a shirt, a couple of toys from “Santa” and the grandest gift were from “Mom and Dad.”
One year, however, was a present with “from Dad” on the tag. It was the only present that was ever from only Dad, a gift I cherished, a bank in the shape of a bowling pin. The bank, now lost in the time of the half-century since may be gone, but its memory will last my lifetime.
During my teen years, Christmas became less memorable. With Steve and Brenda grown and out of the house, presents becoming more practical, and my interest in toys diminishing, maybe the wonderment of childhood had worn off.
Julie and I were married when I was 18, and that first Christmas together was filled with love and excitement. Our first Christmas together would also be the only Christmas we had together before children started to arrive.
Josh came in early December the next year, and the warmth, joy, and love had grown. Less than a month old, I held my son as I wondered about Joseph and the Babe he held among the sheep and goats.
Our next child, Jill, came a year and 10 days after Josh, again, in December, shortly before Christmas. Jeremiah came on Jill’s second birthday. Three of our four children were born in the early days of December. Christmas always seemed to have a baby in the house (Jennifer was born in March, go figure).
Those baby Christmases seem like only a few years ago, but it has been decades now. Josh turned forty a couple of weeks ago Jill is now thirty-nine.
Then came the Christmases with grandchildren. When some of the grandkids were wee-little, we would show up before dawn to see the children as they awoke and opened presents. Of our twelve grandchildren, three are adults, five are teens, and only one is under ten. The childlike excitement of Christmas morning has evaporated for most of them, as well.
We all have our memories of Christmases past. Some good — and sadly — some bad.
When Mary stood at the foot of the cross and saw her baby crucified there, I wonder if her mind wandered back to the manger. Did she think of when the angel told her, “of his kingdom, there shall be no end?”
The manger of Bethlehem contains the magic of Christmas. The Bible tells us Jesus Christ is eternal, the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Scriptures proclaim that it was His voice back during the week of creation, that uttered the words, “Let there be Light,” along with every other word that spoke the universe into existence. Have you ever considered the word
“universe” itself tells us God created it all? “Uni” means one, and the meaning of “verse” is voice. We call all of creation “one-voice.”
God Almighty, the power of the universe, left His throne and became the child in Mary’s womb, and later the Babe in the manger.
Why? God’s creation had become scarred by sin. He came and became sin for us and died on the cross to pay for our sins. He rose from the grave three days later to give us hope of eternal life.
The magic of Christmas is not found in a child listening for reindeer on the roof, or the wide-eye excitement over the gifts, it is that God loved us enough to send His only begotten Son, in the form of a baby, to die on the cross for our eternal salvation.