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Christmas memories  

The Christmas season is a time when many people reflect on the past. To some, the fond memories of Christmases past help to warm the hearth of Christmas present. But to others, those good memories are an affliction, a reminder of better times, of friends or loved ones no longer here, or of bounty no longer possessed.

Then there are others who have few, if any, good memories. Entering the season only rekindles painful images. People who suffer depression at Christmastime are said to have seasonal affective disorder, or S.A.D. There are just a lot of sad people at this time of year.

My parents have been gone for some time now and I cherish the memories of our family Christmases. The day always started with recognition of the holiday’s true meaning. An old 78 rpm record happily spinning in the pullout record player inside our Motorola console radio began the day with the song “Happy Birthday, Gentle Savior.” And before presents were opened, everyone would gather in the living room for my dad’s reading of the Christmas story from Matthew 1 and Luke 2, followed by prayer.

I remember my dad putting up outdoor lights. Every year they stayed up a little longer until one year he just decided to leave them up year-round.

My wife and I started our own traditions. One of them goes like this: Sometime in early November Peggy begins dropping hints, leaving catalogs with conveniently marked pages, ads clipped from the newspaper, or Post-It notes with the names of stores, descriptions of items, and their prices where I’ll be sure to see them. Then, on about December 23, I ask her if she’s given me any hints and rush about frantically in pursuit of the gifts I should have purchased long before.

In my youth, as a seasonal clerk at department stores, I had plenty of opportunity to view last-minute shoppers. The closer it got to Christmas, the less Christmas spirit there was.

Both stressed-out shoppers and people suffering from depression can entirely miss the joy this season should bring. As Christians, let’s keep our focus on Jesus and point those whose lives we touch toward the genuine meaning of this season.

— Ken Horn

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