A Christmas Theory by Valerie Goodman 2015
As I think back on my favorite Christmas memories from childhood I can’t help but pause and reflect on how wonderfully and richly God has blessed me. I look around and see so much pain and hurting (even in my own family) and I am reminded that family and friends are truly one of life’s greatest treasures and gifts.
Growing up Christmas was a babe in a manger – a savior for the world, Christmas cantatas, snowmen and ice, jingle bells and the sound of my mom singing Silver Bells and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus as we drove down Highway 47 – all while I was standing in the middle of the seat beside her (yes, that was before car seat and seatbelt laws). It was home-made angel wings and gowns for the annual Christmas program at church – wings that left trails of glitter and feathers everywhere I walked – like a fairy sprinkling her magic flying dust.
Christmas was the smell of cookies and pies, mom’s lemon icebox pie and potato salad, turkey and dressing, sparkling lights, and twinkling lights. It was driving to Southern Haulers (dad’s work because he worked 60-80 hours a week many times) on Christmas Eve to sit with him in a grease pit, and then waiting for him to arrive home Christmas morning before Santa could come. My dad has always been such a hard worker and those are some of my earliest memories of him and Christmas. Christmas was going to Little Mama and Daddy Cups’ house Christmas Day and the house being filled with so many people you couldn’t find a place to sit – the smell of excessive amounts of food filling the air (including butter beans and corn bread – which were staples at all meals) and gifts piled high from floor to ceiling. Then there are the memories of sitting with my cousins in the back room as we gorged ourselves with plate after plate of turkey, dressing and deserts and giggled about things that made sense to no one but us. Christmas was staring intently in amazement at the Christmas Tree cake my mom’s mom (my beautiful grandmother) had made – that was so pretty no one would dare cut into it.
Christmas was dressing up like an angel for the church Christmas play, singing the Silent Night solo (which you were always asked to sing -but you really wanted to sing What Child Is This). Christmas was giggles and laughter, Candy Canes, Hot Chocolate, broken doll carriage wheels that Santa broke accidentally while coming down the chimney, and driving around with the family to see all the town’s Christmas lights. Christmas was (and still is) Bing Crosby and White Christmas, Elf, and stringing popcorn with momma to hang on the tree. We ate more than we strung.
Christmas was looking through the Sears & Roebuck catalog, making my wish list for Santa, and checking it more than twice. It was trips to Wal-mart and Bills Dollar Store, gazing with anticipation at the toy isles. Christmas was watching The sleigh radar detector on the local news and sleeping with one eye open hoping to catch a small Glimpse of Santa as he made his Christmas delivery to our house. I would listen intently trying to see if I could hear Rudolf and Prancer on the rooftop.
Now we have new family traditions and we are making new memories. I love decorating the Dining Room tree and decking the house out with decorations and lights. I love coming together with the kiddos and decorating the Family Tree in the living room, eating pizza and home-made chocolate chip cookies, followed by the annual trip to see the beautiful lights at Nocallula Falls. I love seeing the smiles on their faces as they open their gifts – oh how I love giving (and receiving) surprises. Even more, I love the look on their face when they open the annual GAG GIFT I have over-thought and carefully constructed! I love the family get-togethers and the anticipation of a new year ahead.
Reflecting back on Christmas memories is so much fun, but I find myself at a place and time in my life where Christmas is somehow so different now. It takes on an entirely new meaning. I still love all the above mentioned memories and traditions. AND DON’T GET ME WRONG – I’ve been a good girl Santa and I have made my list and checked it twice to insure I haven’t forgotten anything! (giggles)
Somehow these days I find that my heart longs for something deeper. I imagine it’s because, as Ephesians 2:10 outlines, we were created for something so much bigger than ourselves. We were created to be a part of the grand design of God’s plan, precisely woven into the tapestry of His master plan. The fanfare of secular Christmas traditions (although fun and nothing wrong with it when our focus is where it should be and we keep the MAIN THING the MAIN THING) is not what brings fulfillment and joy and purpose to my life. Jesus came because we needed him. And likewise, those around us need him – and we can be His heart extended to the world. This brings true fulfillment. When someone sees the hands of God reaching through us – When our acts of kindness bring the smile – That is when we know Heaven has kissed earth. If we want to feel the warmth of heaven touching earth, if we truly want others to know that they are not alone, or forgotten, or overlooked, then we should be courageous and take action. This is the true wonder of Christmas – so my challenge to you is don’t let this be just another Christmas! Go out and be the hands and feet of Christ. Be His heart, His hands, and His feet. This is why He came to begin with – so that we and others may know and experience freedom and be restored to our Father God in Heaven.
If we truly want to see the wonder of Christmas and feel the warmth of Heaven breath upon the earth, then we must rise up and say – NOT ON OUR WATCH! Not on our watch will a 17-year war veteran go another Christmas without a smile, a warm meal, a coat and a gift, when we have it within our power to help. NOT ON OUR WATCH will another child not have a winter coat and a gift to unwrap when we have it within our power to help. NOT ON OUR WATCH will someone contemplate suicide because they feel so utterly hopeless – because WE DO HAVE THE POWER TO HELP! NOT ON OUR WATCH will we sit idly by when we have the power within us to do good. We may not can do everything, or even change their circumstances, but we can do something! We can offer kindness and hope that may change their outlook – and that is the greatest gift of all! To love people and serve people and let them know THEY MATTER! The power of one is miraculous. The power of a group of us coming together for one common purpose and goal is divine!
May we never again say to God – “Do Something, Send Someone to Help”. God created us and we are a somebody who can do something! So let’s go do something – let’s go do what we can!
Merry Christmas everyone and God bless!