Finally! It’s morning! Even though it’s still dark outside, surely Santa has come already! Rushing out of bed, through the dark hall, and making my way to the living room, guided by the glow of the Christmas tree lights…is there a gift for me? Wait . . . is that a weight set? As I rub my eyes to wake up, I bend over, grab the bar, and yank it up, raising it as high over my head as any 6- or 7-year-old could. Unfortunately, I had not learned the concept of gravity yet, but was beginning to gain a little understanding as I fell straight on my butt…with weight and all!!!
Christmas always brings memories of the past, and, of course, 2020 will be no different. It has definitely been like that weight set and knocked a lot of us down on our butts! I think where we are today is partly a result of always expecting there to be a “Santa Clause” to bring a whole bag of goodies to us, simply because we want. Maybe it’s the things we want, or the idea that somehow Christmas is an escape even just for a day, or the fairytale that there must be a Good Ole Saint Nick out there for us somewhere, right? But, we believe, because we want to believe. All we have to do is make the nice list.
I expect Christmas 2020 to be different. As I look around, I see many families affected by COVID. I would dare say, we all have been affected to some degree or another, some more so than others. I get really frustrated when I see the reporting over the numbers, the data, and the statistics, especially when it comes to deaths. Do we not realize that whether this death is to account for this location or that location is really irrelevant? Especially to the wife, husband, son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, or father? Really? When will we realize that for every death, there are real people facing tremendous loss this holiday season?
Recently, Ky and I became friends with one family that have lost six family members beginning sometime around Halloween. Six!!! Can you imagine? This will be a Christmas of remembering their loved ones, as well as trying to pick up and move forward without them. A loving wife of over 60 years is now holding the family together as she misses the simplest of things herself…whether it his presence, his touch, or the music he made…and trust me, he was an incredible musician! Sadly, I’m sure this is just one of many realities this Christmas. So what COULD Santa have in his bag to give these families this year that would bring lasting peace and comfort?
As a father and a provider, I always want my kids to have a memorable Christmas. I want to be able to give them what they want, for the most part. Things have changed so much since I was a kid. I actually got what I needed more than what I wanted. Yay, underwear again!!! Even stockings were filled with what I call the old traditional stuff…bananas, apples, oranges, and nuts that you had to have a nutcracker to even enjoy, and that was questionable! But, the Lifesaver candy, oh that was the real stuff you kept for yourself and didn’t let anyone else beg, borrow, or steal. But now, I feel like my kids have to like everything they get, even in their stocking. If they don’t, I disappointed them. So, I typically stress trying to make sure that EVERYTHING I give them is what they would at least enjoy. This Christmas seems a little harder than normal in reaching that goal, especially being aware of the pain and suffering I see others experiencing. Could I just find one thing that would meet all the criteria of joy, happiness, excitement, lasting, etc.? Maybe, just maybe, I found an answer.
Have you heard of the “Christmas Star of 2020”? Jupiter and Saturn will come closer than they have been in centuries. Some are calling it a once in ten lifetimes kind of event. Is this coincidence? A miracle? Or simply nature? A miracle involving a star occurred over two thousand years ago, and is part of the greatest story to be told! Behold, a child is born, peace on earth, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:11-14) However, Christ wasn’t born to be our Santa Clause. It seems like that is a common attitude. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that who so ever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) You See, God is love, and He loves everyone He created from the 7.8 billion currently on earth, all the way back to Adam and Eve. That’s hard for me to fathom. In the midst of the sea of people, God knows my name, cares for me, knows what things I struggle with, and loves me as a son. We are all children of God, if we so choose, which means Christ is our brother. Now imagine that!!! You are lost, your father knows exactly where you are, the circumstances you are in, but he can’t come get you. So, he sends your brother, knowing that it will cost him everything, even his life, to reach you and bring you back to your dad. Your brother does it, not only without hesitation, but he does it in the midst of being mocked, shamed, and receiving constant death threats. Finally, he was captured, beaten, tortured, and put to death. But all along the way, he helped others. He concerned himself with others more than himself. He brought hope! He brought joy! He healed the broken hearted! He gave people purpose! Words can’t even begin to describe that kind of love! That’s MY brother!!!! What else could I ever want or need!!! To me, this is what Christmas is about…the greatest gift in all eternity!
Maybe, just maybe, I found an answer. My kids will have gifts to open under the tree. They will leave cookies and milk for Santa, because I hear Santa is addicted to Oreos! But, finding that perfect gift is not near as hard as I make it. I will be that gift! Ky will be that gift! We will strive to love our kids and have that relationship with them that God, our Father, has with us, that Christ the Son dedicated His life to, and the Holy Spirit guides in love. With all the struggle this Christmas, maybe we can realize the best gift we can give our friends and family is ourselves. I believe we can all make a difference in the people around us. God has given us the ability to love one another, offer hope, and bring joy to our loved ones!
For those families that are lost, grieving the loss of loved ones, or struggling with anything else, remember that Christ loves you and brings lasting hope, peace, and comfort. If you’d like to reach out for prayer, or even to remember your loved ones, feel free to post in comments.
Merry Christmas from our Family to Yours with Love!