When I was a child, Christmas was the happiest time of the year for me. Christmas was not hectic and complicated. It was just wonderful. It was all about Christmas carols, Christmas programs, baking cookies and treats, my aunt coming over on Christmas Eve with Santa’s travel report, and lots of family on Christmas Day. My sisters and I liked presents and Santa when we were little, but those things did not usurp Christmas. Christmas was all about the birth of Baby Jesus. I learned all the verses of all the Christmas carols at Robert Lewis Stevenson public elementary school. The all-school Christmas program was a very big event every year. There was a required attendance policy at the evening program, but it was unnecessary for me and my friends. We would not have missed it for anything.
The official Christmas shopping season started the day after Thanksgiving. It was called “the day after Thanksgiving” and not black Friday. It was fun and exciting. It was busy in the stores, but not crazy and no one got hurt. No stores were open on Thanksgiving Day or 6:00 A.M the next morning. Stores opened at 10:00 on the day after Thanksgiving – the same as every other non holiday shopping day. Everyone said “Merry Christmas!”
One of my favorite Christmas carols was and still is Silent Night. My most favorite is Oh Holy Night. We sang both every year at Stevenson Elementary. It is my intention this year to recapture some of the sheer and simple delight of Christmas by taking time to slow down and pay attention to what is most important. We think of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at Christmas. She was so young and probably quite scared, but she was brave and obedient. She focused on her sweet baby boy. She focused on the most important person of Christmas and in all of life, Jesus Christ. Years later another Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him and desiring to be in His presence. Martha loved the Lord too, but she was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40). Jesus loved both women the same, and He told Martha that of all her preparations, only one thing was really important. Mary had chosen that one thing. Mary had chosen to make Jesus the priority of that moment.
Of all the things we do at Christmas, let’s keep the main thing, the main thing. Let’s take time to sing carols, to go to Christmas programs with our children and grandchildren, to be kind to people in the stores even the crabby ones. Let’s say Merry Christmas often. Let’s be generous to those who are in need. Most important of all, let’s spend silent and holy time in Jesus’ presence praying and reading His Word. Let’s enter into the full joy of Christmas in moments set apart from all the distractions of preparations and business. Take time to reflect upon that very first Christmas Eve when little baby Jesus entered this world and brought God’s light to people living in darkness. May we fall on our knees before Him and hear the angels’ voices. May we focus on that first Christmas, experience a thrill of hope, and rejoice in our dear Savior’s birth.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” ( Luke 2:11).
Wishing you a Merry, Merry Christmas!