Reflections of Christmas Past…

Merry Christmas! It’s nearing the end of the day and I am finally sitting down to write about the events of Christmas 2016. As you already know, it’s been a weird week. Janet is finally starting to recover from her broken arm that happened a week ago when she fell on the ice and required surgery to install a plate and 8 or 9 screws to hold her upper arm together. Obviously, I have been tied up assisting her and I have barely thought about Christmas this year.

Of course, I know it is all about the birth of Jesus, but I have been also very focused on the trappings of the season – until last week when Janet fell. I have had time to reflect on all of this and to once again be reminded of how fragile life is. It can change in an instant…

I recalled our early Christmases and how on the night before Christmas we had such a wonderful time with our cousins at their home on Murphy Lake, although sometimes my paternal grandparents hosted and other times, the Christmas Eve celebration was held at our house. But Uncle Wayne and Aunt Fran also hosted the best events with our cousins Lynn and Laurel. I even remember Uncle Wayne playing Santa and we younger kids had to go into a bedroom while “Santa” visited and left presents under the tree. I can’t even recount all the memories I have of those great family traditions.

Then, the joy of Christmas morning and all that it entailed. The gifts, playing with Dad and finally having dinner with Mom’s parents about a mile away. Great memories and great traditions as well. Maybe Janet’s close call this week intensified my desire to look at the past.

Mom, since the time I was a very little boy, always made cranberry nut bread for just about everyone. The paper boy, milkman, handyman and just about anybody else we knew almost stood in line to receive a loaf. It was crazy – Mom was at the store almost every day getting more cranberries, chopped walnuts and all the other ingredients she needed to make more of her signature bread. Even all our teachers received loaves and you can imagine that I was recruited at a very early age to help out.

I would help with the mixing and the sorting of cranberries until I was old enough to actually measure stuff and become more valuable to Mom in the kitchen. After all, she was a world class cook and she loved to bake for others. When Mom got more feeble with her MS and finally gave up her house, she stopped doing the baking and some of the other things she was known for. Since 1998, when she passed away, the recipes have been in the pantry and nobody has attempted any of her favorite recipes. Until yesterday…

Maybe it was Janet’s injury, or an attempt by me to get some normalcy around Christmas, but I got out Mom’s cookbook, started sorting the cranberries and made that famous recipe from my childhood, when I started helping Mom about 60 years ago. I had forgotten some of the things we used to do, but it all came back as I read and reread the recipe. And the aroma – I knew that I was on the right track… And licking the beaters like I used to do – that was pure joy…

To cut to the chase, it was a trip down memory lane. Just what I needed to bring Christmas into sharp focus for me. And it occurred to me that throughout my life I have gone from the youngest to the oldest in the family. Each time someone was born, or somebody ahead of me passed away, I moved closer to the top of the list. I thought about how my perspective has changed throughout the years.

As a youngster, it was all about the gifts I received. As I got older, it was more about quality instead of quantity and then, when Janet and I were married and had children, Christmas took on an addition meaning – affording the next generation the same joys we had when we were young. And now, it is grandchildren, some of whom are in or entering their teen years. God willing, in another 10 years, we could be great grandparents. What a thought!

Yesterday, I posted a picture of the night that Janet and I were engaged 44 years ago Christmas Eve. Once again, it sharpened my focus on all that has occurred. Viewing once again the home of my parents, who are both gone now, and remembering how young (nineteen) Janet and I were when we made the decision to get married. And how much different it turned out from what we would have imagined back then.

And through it all, today was a great day – with all of these things going through my mind. To watch our kids and grandchildren grow and thrive is the thrill Janet and I live for today. It’s no longer about us, except when we are alone – it’s about the greater family dynamic. And that’s all possible because a small child was born in a manger some 2000 years ago – whose mission was to love others and show us the way to eternal life…

The verse for this evening is from John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” It’s important to know that this verse does not mean that Jesus stopped being God when He was born as a baby. Rather, he took on an additional role besides being God – now He was also fully human. Think about when  a woman becomes a mother –  she doesn’t cease being a woman, but now also has an additional role – that of a mother. That’s how it is with Jesus – fully God, and now, also, fully Man.

As I think about it, I probably never ceased being a boy – but I also became a man, a husband, a father and also a grandfather. Each role has given me a better insight into who God created me to be. My encouragement tonight is that you will realize how special you are to God and how your role has evolved throughout the years. My prayer is that you will focus on the importance of family in addition to the birth of Jesus and how He became part of an earthly family when He was born on this day more than 2000 years ago. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

 
 
 
 

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