I think I was four years old when my dad canceled Christmas. I found out when I walked into my sister's bedroom and saw her. She was violently cutting tearing up pieces of gift-wrapping paper on her bed. I shifted my eyes from the paper falling on the bedspread to her teardrops.
"What's wrong," I asked my older sister as I climbed onto the bed next to her.
She tossed the scissors aside and began to sob into her hands. "We don't have Christmas anymore," she said in a hushed tone, loud enough for me to hear. We talked like this when we didn't want our father to listen to us. "He said Christmas is a pagan holiday, and we are no longer going to celebrate it."
I didn't fully understand the magnitude of her statement. Perhaps we were going to celebrate Christmas on another day. What about the presents that our mother had already wrapped sitting under the tree?
That following Monday, a couple of days later, I sat in the back seat of the family station wagon and watched my father carry the Christmas tree, along with the wrapped presents, into the local Salvation Army.
We never celebrated Christmas again as a family. From then on, Christmas became was a high-stress holiday; Mom usually worked a double shift at the hospital to earn holiday pay, so we have left home alone with our dad.; we pretended it was just another day off, like a snow day.
The worst part of Christmas was returning to school. Almost every year, the teacher would go around the room and ask the kids what their favorite present was. I would begin to panic as it was about to become my turn. I usually made up something another kid said, like a Cabbage Patch doll or Atari.
As you can imagine, as an adult Now that I’m a dad of three kids, Christmas has an extra special meaning to me. I love the twinkling lights decorating the houses in the neighborhood, the smell of fresh-baked cookies, candy canes, and holiday parties, and the miniature manger scenes with life-like animals. We make plans together for a memorable holiday that includes the whole family.
What I love most about Christmas is the time spent with my family and friends. I want them to experience the extraordinary love that has been given to me to share with others. but for many people, including some reading this right now, Christmas is a time filled with reminders of how harsh and cruel life can be.” You can easily feel cheated when you see how much fun other people are having. One of the best ways to fight against that feeling of dread is to make someone else’s Christmas special.
When I read the simple story of the birth of Jesus, I can’t help noticing the extreme measure the kings and shepherds made to welcome his entry into the world. I have come to discover that Christmas is much more than twinkling lights, but rather, it is about welcoming others into God's family. That's why I love Christmas!