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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