To say Christmas was a big thing in my family growing up is a huge understatement. HUGE. When Hubby and I were engaged, I thought it would be a good idea to take him home with me for Christmas so he couldn’t claim I didn’t warn him after we were married.
My family did NOT disappoint. My Dad met us as we got off the plane in a green and white Santa suit! My nephews might have been wearing reindeer antlers. That was in the days before 9/11 when whole families would wait for someone to get off of the plane. And my whole family did.
He was warned. And he married me anyway.
Christmas at my house always included a “program.” It started innocently enough. I was looking for a way to keep my little girls and nephews out of the kitchen so my mom could do her Christmas cooking prep. I kept them busy creating a show with costumes and songs. We depleted my mom’s cotton ball supply so we could glue them to paper plates to make lamb facemasks. We raided the brown paper bag stash to make donkey heads. My nephews were the cutest manger animals. My littlest girl was a precious “Mary.”
That was the first year. As the kids grew, the program changed but always someone sang, played an instrument, acted out a play or did a dance. Or two.
One year we decided to have Christmas Eve at home. We gathered in the formal living room where twinkling Christmas lights created a festive atmosphere. My young nephew plunked out a few Christmas carols on the piano, we sang a few more songs and my dad prepared to read the Christmas story. Can you just envision the lovely Norman Rockwell scene?
Then the plan was to take communion. The whole family was sitting either on the almost white carpet or the mostly white couches. My mom filled a silver goblet with grape juice and had bread ready. What happened next is a blur. Some aspects of it are very clear. Very.
I’m not sure how the grape juice got out of the goblet and all over the mostly white carpet and couches – yes, plural. Both of them.
I can’t remember if it was a dog, a child, an adult or some other force. But I do remember my Mom shrieking and my Dad using the closest word to cussing he ever said. DANGNABBIT!
Everyone jumped up. Mom ran for water, stain spray and cloths. We all went into operation “save the carpet and couches” mode. Dangnabbit might have been uttered again.
Thirty minutes later, the couches were too wet to sit on, my nephews had moved on to play a game and everyone’s attitudes stunk. Christmas Eve was ruined.
Or was it?
We moved into the living room and gathered around to try again. I’m not sure which parent insisted we try again but we did. I don’t think anyone actually said, “We WILL have our Christmas Eve communion or else” but it was close to that.
After a few minutes, we calmed down and focused on the reason why we were trying to have communion on Christmas Eve – other than no one was capable of singing a moving rendition of Oh, Holy Night as we lit candles.
Seriously, Christmas Eve marks the birth of our savior, Jesus’, birth. As Christians, we are eternally grateful for the birth of Jesus. But without what he did 33 years later on the cross, the birth wouldn’t be significant. Communion is the time we stop and acknowledge that the baby, Jesus, born on Christmas grew up and willing gave His life for all humanity so we can have eternal life.
Jesus told Him, “I am the way the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
It took time, effort and a lot of stain spray but eventually we took time to remember and reflect on the gratitude we have for the birth – and death of Jesus.
How do you focus on the true meaning of Christmas?