And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”
ESV Luke 2:13-14
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, greetings this Advent and Christmas Season!
Something different from me this year: as I experienced Christmas in my childhood, there are no theological insights, moral principles to pass along, or any words of wisdom … just a sharing from my childhood.
The one thing that stands out the most, that brings memories, was visiting relatives. It was a family tradition, that the week between Christmas and New Years was a marathon of “visiting.” Mostly relatives and some friends would come to our house or we would travel to theirs, exchanging greetings and hospitality. The spirit of giving bountifully flowed, food and beverage filled the tables; no one ever went away less than stuffed. I especially looked forward to the vast assortment of breads and cookies; Grandma’s nut bread and nut cookies were the best.
In addition, while the adults talked the kids would go off and play with their new toys. You always took that special one with you to show the others, and since most of my cousins were older than I was, they always had some really neat stuff to play with.
As a young child, I remember that no Christmas decoration was put up before Christmas Eve. My parents must have been crazy, to do the tree, all the decorating, gift-wrapping, etc. after I went to bed. No wonder my father was never up early Christmas morning, he was lucky to get to bed before daybreak; and so we would always go to the 11:00 a.m. service on Christmas Day. Therefore, Christmas Eve was not a time of celebration, but of preparation for Christmas Day.
The hub of Christmas was in the church not under the tree! Christmas Day was a time for the immediate family—Mom, Dad and myself—we would began with worship and then Christmas dinner; occasionally my older siblings and their families would come for dinner, but mostly it would be the three of us. You see, my fond childhood memories of Christmas are peaceful and quite.
Now, “Christmas” did not start until Christmas. Advent was a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus not a pre-celebration of Christmas. Christmas shopping was done in the days before, not weeks or months. Christmas was a religious Holyday not a secular Holiday!
So, as you prepare this Advent for the coming of Christ Jesus, I pray that you do not become overwhelmed with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I pray that your Christmas will be filled with the peace and love that only Christ can bring, and may it truly be holy.