Saturday, December 13, 2008


Once again, whether we are ready or not, the Christmas Season has arrived. Just as it does every year. A time when many folks find themselves busy. Perhaps more so than they should be. Sad to say, Some people wind up finding themselves too busy to really enjoy the great season.

There are last minute gifts to buy and food to prepare. There are plans to be made. Often travel plans, and at a time of year when the weather and road conditions can be anything but cooperative. Airports are often crowded with people who are frantically trying to work their way around flight cancellations so they can make it home for the holidays.

Christmas is a time for family and for friends. A time for people to enjoy the company of others. And a time that seems to bring out the best in people. A jolly season that can help us forget our problems. And forget that winter has just begun, and the long, cold month of January lies directly ahead of us.While driving at night, we can hardly help but feel our spirits lift as we view the Christmas lights that decorate homes and places of business.

Christmas is a time to reminisce. To drift back to childhood and try to recall the feelings of anticipation of the Great Day. At the country school attended, we decorated the schoolroom and put up a large tree. We all drew names and then each of us bought a small present for the person whose name we drew. These fits were placed under the tree.

Each year we put on a Christmas play, an evening event followed by a social meeting for parents and students. Santa Claus would appear just in time to hand out the fits beneath the tree, along with a paper sack of candy and mixed nuts for each student. A neighbor and family friend named Matt Schiffman was the best I've ever seen at playing that role. He was convincing enough to almost make believers out of some of us boys who were old enough to know better.

Christmas decorations were quite simple back then. Almost every family I knew put up and decorated a tree, often a small, freshly cut cedar tree. For appearance these could not begin to compare to the neatly pruned commercial spruce, fir, and pines available only with a homegrown tree.

Most of the Christmas trees in our neighborhood were decorated with a few strings of red roping and tinsel. Most had a star on top. There were few glass ornaments and so strings of lights. Later, shiny foil icicles became popular. Some children cut strips of paper and then, with paste, made loops, or links to form paper chains to hang on the tree. I"ve witnessed a few attempts to string popcorn for the tree, but most of these tries were short-lived, ending with few popped kernels on the strings, more kernels broken by the needle. And, eventually, most of the popcorn eaten by the unsuccessful stringers.

As the years went by, the Rural Electrification Act put electrical power into most of the farm homes. Small wreaths with a single lighted bulb in the center became available. Then, soon, thee were strings of six or eight colored lights. The aggravating kind, wired in series, so that when one bulb burned out the circuit was broken and they all went dark. A far cry from today's strings of a hundred or more bright colorful, blinking or marquee bulbs.

One way or another, the story of Christ's birth is still being told. As it has been for more than 2000 years.

A story has been handed down
As years have come and gone.
Still told to children by adults,
That great legend lives on.

The tale of a Savior who came
To cleanse us of all sin,
But no grand welcome did He find,
With no room at the inn.

We are told the Christ Child was born
In lowly stable small,
No proper place for Newborn King -
Fit for no child at all.

The angel choirs sang out for joy
On that first Christmas Day.
Shepherds, in wonder, gathered 'round
The manger where He lay.

Now, years later, we enjoy great
Old songs carolers sing.
On Christmas Morn, faithful gather
When the glad church bells ring.

We all await the peace and joy
The great day holds in store
And, in our hearts, almost become
As small children once more.

As Christmas fills our lives, and hearts,
All other gifts seem small
When compared to God's gift of love,
The Greatest Gift of all.