Dec. 11, 2015

Christmas...it's almost here, Think Joy! Think Peace! Think Christ...

“Christmas! It’s almost here!

My favorite...favorite...time of year.

Think mistletoe and holly,

Children’s faces...jolly.

Carols on the radio,

Happy smiles each place you go.

Presents piled beneath the tree,

Some for you and some for me.

Christmas! It’s almost here!

Think...Joy!

Think...Peace!

Think...Love...”

Here it is, the 11th, which means Christmas is a little over two weeks away. John and I toured Sierra Madre last night looking at the lights on various houses, drawing inspiration, as lights haven’t appeared outside our house yet. Inside, it’s decorated within an inch of its life with dancing reindeer, Santa’s band, lighted houses and a nifty little battery powered train on the dining room table. There are poinsettias galore, our nativity looks nice, and, all in all, looks pretty cool. There are presents piled, ready to go to various friends and family, but nothing like the picture I saw on the news this morning of more wrapped gifts than Santa ever thought of, stacked like cordwood by a woman who buys each of her several children 85 gifts each. The program folks and I all fell back in horrified shock and awe. Those poor little kids, they’ll be totally exhausted long before they get to the end of this Christmas nightmare.

And then I read today’s Upper Room Daily Devotional, written by a teacher, James C. Hendrix from Indiana: “many years ago, a former student stopped by my office with a Christmas gift. As she handed me a paper bag, she smiled and thanked me for the study tips I had given her. Knowing she and her family struggled to pay her tuition and other college costs, I had not expected a gift from her. Opening the bag, I pulled out her gifts – an apple, an orange, and a large peppermint candy stick. She said she wanted to buy something more expensive but these gifts were all she could afford. I received several other gifts that Christmas, but I have always remembered this former student’s generosity.”

Mr. Hendrix goes on to say that just as this young student shared with him, God gives us opportunities to share and is pleased when we extend kindness to others. He mentions reaching out to others in simple ways – a phone call, a hug, a kind word. Things beyond material value. He ends saying, “by doing good and sharing with others, we show our gratitude for God’s love and mercy.

I really liked this and hope you do, too. I’m so glad no one ever gave me 85 presents to be excited over. One of my dearest memories is of one of our children, who gave me a quarter and a dime, in a little white box, beautifully tied with a bow for Christmas. It was all she had and, I’m sorry to say I didn’t really appreciate the gift until some years later. But I do now, I really do.

I guess where I’m going here is that Jesus gave all he had, coming here to be born in a cold, smelly stable, knowing what his future held for him, when he would give, literally, his last drop of blood for mankind.

“Best of all...the Christmas story,

Jesus left behind His glory!

A bright new star up in the sky,

Shepherds see, and wonder why.

Angels sing of peace on earth,

It’s time, at last, Messiah’s birth!

A stable filled with heaven’s light,

The world will change this Christmas night.

Christmas!  It’s almost here!

My favorite....favorite time of year.

Think.....Joy!

Think....Peace!

Think....Christ!

(“Think Joy! from “Star of Wonder – A Christmas Musical”

Book & Lyrics by Deanne Davis, Music by David Wheatley)

Take a little time to look at the lights in your neighborhood, tell your family you love them, even though they won’t be getting 85 presents from you, and enjoy this season, yes, even when you can’t find anyplace to park within a mile of Macy’s.