Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. I didn’t always feel that way, but it was never because of Christmas itself. Today, any feelings of dread about this wonderful time of the year have passed, and I am finally able to embrace Christmas for what it truly is. It only took me 40 years to finally do it.
Now, wouldn’t it be nice if we could do this the other 364 days of the year?
Most of my life, Christmas was really about giving and getting stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I fully knew what Christmas was, but I really just gave lip service to that. While I believed in God, in Jesus, and all of that, Christmas was really about gifts. At least, it was in my heart, and isn’t that where things like that really matter?
Now, I’m not saying I was some greedy schmuck who just wanted stuff. I genuinely enjoyed watching the look on other people’s faces when they opened up that special something I had picked out. I actually enjoyed giving the gifts, though in all honesty that might have been because I enjoyed hearing people exclaim their appreciation for what I had given them.
Really, Christmas was about me.
A couple of years ago, I bought this little newspaper. Like most people who buy a business, I had visions of success bouncing around in my head. Unlike more realistic people, I kind of expected that success to happen instantly. Obviously, it didn’t. Like a lot of businesses, things got awfully lean. They’re still pretty lean, not just for the business but for me personally. Last year, we had a very small Christmas, but everyone was generally pretty happy with what they got.
This year, something different happened, at least for me. It was Christmas Eve. My son had been asked to read a passage of scripture for the Christmas Eve service, so he needed to be at the church a little early. I had elected to take him, so I found myself milling about outside of the church waiting for my wife, daughter, and mother to arrive. I wasn’t being impatient. Not really, anyway, but I was overcome with an powerful sense of contentment. Here I was, with no money, a wife and two kids to support, and I just felt this sense that everything was fine.
While I have described myself as a Christian for several years now – and I didn’t always – I hadn’t really been one for saying grace before a meal. I’m also one of those kinds who tries to get a consensus for what’s going to go on in the house. Both of those went out the window last night when I announced that we would be saying grace. I got no arguments.
I felt like I needed to take that moment or two, along with my family, to thank God. I didn’t just regurgitate some words I had learned in a bygone age, now repeated out of habit. I spoke words that came from deep within me. I thanked God for all we had received. He had been looking out for us, even in our darkest times, and I finally got that in a very real way. So we said grace before our meal, but it was really a bit more than that. We thanked Him for keeping our heads above water. He had been doing that for a while, but for a smart guy, I can be pretty stupid sometimes. It took a while to realize that He had been there for us the whole time.
Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. It’s a time of miracles. This year, I had my own. I hope you did too.