MISSOURI, December 16, 2017: At Christmas faith and family is the focus of the holiday for those of us who grew up in the 30s and 40s. It is not about a Christmas gift purchased from a store. Today’s obsession with the commercialization clouds the true meaning of Christmas.
Materialism, an overabundance of gift giving, cannot replace personal attention given to your loved ones.
When I was growing up, Christmas Eve looked very much like the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Often the night was so clear and bright and the ground was covered by a fresh snowfall that had not been disturbed by any human or creature.
Christmas Eve Church – remembering a special Christmas gift
The family would walk together to a small country church. The conversation was quiet as the snow was loud crunching underfoot.
At that point in time, many families still used oil lamps in their homes, especially in rural areas, and the abundance of lights in the church was something very special.
Earlier, the men of the church went into the woods to find the perfect tree. The decorations were very simple. Popcorn strung together, paper loops inter twined to make a chain that covered the tree from top to bottom, candy canes, and religious ornaments. At the top of the tree stood a gigantic star.
Large brown bags surrounded the bottom of the tree and the children were always very curios about their contents.
Service begins. Even today, some seniors can remember the singing. It was thunderous to the ears. We all had songbooks and found joy in this time of celebration. Prayer is a part of the service and every person began to feel the true meaning of Christmas.
After several hours of celebration, the service is over. The children are invited to form a line and come up to the front of the church for their “brown bag.” They draw the bag into their small chests and beam as they return to their families. Still, they do not look into the bag.
The families leave the church, greeting other church-goers and neighbors, and finally start the walk home with a heart brimming with shear happiness. A true and sincere sense of internal peace.
An unassuming but priceless Christmas gift
Now is the time for the children to look into the brown bag.
The whole family gathered around the kitchen table, the center of the home. The bag was filled with walnuts; pecans candy canes, apples, oranges and other types of fruits.
Great smiles spread on the faces not only of the children, but of the adults as well.
Children today will likely pause here, incredulous at what they see as paltry contents. “Is that all there is?” The answer is yes, that was all that there was.
But it was so great, so big, so special to those of us then, it made for a very special Christmas celebration.
There were no Xbox’s or PlayStations, no Beats or television sets. Instead, there was simplicity and beauty. There was family and there was God. Christmas evening was about the new snow, the clearness of night, the cold on your face. It was about walking with family, greeting neighbors, standing in awe of a brightly lit church.
Overall, Christmas was about closeness to God and about love and friendship. And that is what Christmas is really about.
However, that’s from a place and time I am from-
To all a very Merry, Happy and Blessed Christmas.