Of course, along with the rest of the Christian world, our family celebrated Christmas 2014 today. The kids were all over and we opened gifts together early this morning. Then Janet prepared her traditional Christmas Day brunch, we cleaned up, took a break and then started to prepare for dinner. Now, the company is gone, the dishes are cleaned up, several people have texted us to wish us a Merry Christmas and we are getting ready to take a well deserved rest.
It seems that each year I recall the Christmases from my days back in Beverly Hills. I could hardly wait to open the gifts that Doug, Ken and I received from our parents each year. I remember the year we got the HO trains along with a 10′ x 4′ plywood board to mount everything. Boy, how I loved those trains! It became a real thing with me and I worked on those trains for years – at least 8 to 10 years – and then I started in again after Janet and I were married – we actually had a train room in one of our homes and our oldest daughter, Kristin, used to sit in the basement and talk with me while I worked on them.
I remember the bicycles and battery operated toys I just loved. And our trees – Dad always wanted a real tree and we used the larger size colored lights. Mom and Dad had ornaments from all over and I remember when they travelled to California on business for Dad and brought back some things for the tree. Before garland, we hung the strings of tinsel on the tree and decorating was always a family event. Doug was a little bit younger than I was, so the hanging of the ornaments and tinsel fell to Mom and me after Dad strung the lights.
Christmas is probably the day that I miss my parents more than any other day of the year. Maybe it was the magic of Christmas as a youngster, or the fact that sometimes I just wish that I could pick up the phone and call Mom and Dad. Our own children don’t realize what it is to suffer the loss of parents (thank God) but at least for me, there is something of a mild sad feeling each year as I watch everyone opening their gifts and remember the distant past. Now Janet and I are the old ones in the room, and we relish our times with the kids, but there is no denying that Christmas is different than it was decades ago.
But life rolls on. And as we age we go from receiving gifts from our parents to watching the faces of our children and grandchildren light up as they experience the joys of Christmas. However, it’s important to realize that no matter how old we are, each year we get to recall the greatest gift that has ever been given to anyone – and it was given to all of us. That, of course, was the gift of Jesus Christ coming to earth in human form – the day we remember as we celebrate Christmas each year. After all, God sent His Son to live among us and take on the sin of the world as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all of us. What a gift it was!
The verse for this evening is arguably the greatest one in the Bible. For we are told, in John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” My encouragement this evening is that the love of God shines around the world and through His followers. My prayer is that you will take some time this week to reflect on all the gifts you have received in your life, perhaps spending a little more time on the one you received from God your heavenly Father – after all, it’s the best one! Even better than the trains… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… And Merry Christmas – God loves you!