Dr. James L. Snyder
I have been trying lately to remember my first Christmas. I know my memory isn’t perfect, but I thought maybe I could bring up some old memories of my first Christmas.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of a thing about that first Christmas of mine. Of course, it might be that I was only five months old at the time. Still, I tried to remember some of those old Christmases in the past.
Down through the years, I have celebrated more Christmases than I want to let on. It’s not that I’m old; I just haven’t died yet.
The thing about Christmas was all the stuff I was getting. The first Christmas I remember, I got a bunch of presents under the tree. None of my siblings had shown up at the time, so I was the focus of several Christmases. That was the essence of real joy.
I thought Christmas was all about me and all I wanted for Christmas and all that would make me happy.
I remember my parents taking me downtown to sit on Santa’s lap and tell what I wanted for Christmas. That’s what I thought Christmas was all about.
I was a little disturbed when my siblings came on the scene, and Christmas was no longer all about “me.” For some reason, they thought they were part of Christmas. Being the terrific brother that I am, I allowed them to have some of the Christmas time around the tree.
Then I was introduced to the fact that not only was I not the focus of Christmas but now I needed to purchase Christmas presents for my siblings. That was a hard thing to get over. What did they ever do to deserve my Christmas presents?
I finally processed that and discovered giving can also be fun.
Things went along nicely, and then another thing changed everything in my Christmas activity.
Going to a Bible school up in New York, I happened to meet a young lady. Before I could process everything, I found myself married. How that happens, men have no idea. I had to remind myself that weddings are for wives and not husbands. The husband that allows the wife to plan the wedding is a happy dude in the end.
When we got married, I did not realize how everything in my life was going to change.
Then came the first Christmas as a married man, for which I wasn’t prepared.
That Christmas we spent with my wife’s family. At first, I thought the whole neighborhood had come to celebrate Christmas with us. Then, much to my chagrin, I realized these were siblings to my wife. I don’t remember how many there were; I couldn’t count them; they were running around too fast.
I never experienced such a Christmas in all my life. The thing about it was we had to purchase gifts for all of the family. I was able to empty Wal-Mart with all of my purchases.
Opening up those gifts, I couldn’t remember what I got and who I got it for. But it was the beginning of a different kind of Christmas season than I experienced up to this time.
Then other things began to happen. One by one, children came into our family. Fortunately, we only had three children, unlike my wife’s parents, who had somewhere near 100, at least by my calculation.
I eventually discovered that Christmas was not about me at all. There was a major adjustment for me thinking about the Christmas season. Not being a qualified shopper, I had to rely upon my wife to do all the shopping, for which she is an expert.
It wasn’t long before I realized that a Christmas song with the word “jingle” in it meant that I was supposed to spend a lot of my coin for Christmas.
Now, Christmas was not about me, or was it? It was about me paying for Christmas, and the recipients seem to be growing without stop.
I had my parents and my siblings to buy Christmas presents. I had my wife’s parents and her siblings to buy Christmas presents. Then, I had my children to buy Christmas presents.
Why, oh, why is it all about “me?”
It took a while for me to come to the right conclusion that Christmas is more than “jingle, jingle.” I came to that conclusion when one Christmas we were celebrating at our home, and our children and grandchildren were all around the Christmas tree opening up presents.
I sat back and just watched. Sure, I got a couple of Christmas presents. But that wasn’t what Christmas was for me. I saw my family around that tree and realized that that’s what Christmas was all about. Family coming together and enjoying one another.
The “jingle, jingle” was just the door that opens up the family celebration. Thinking about it, I have concluded that all the “jingle, jingle” in the world is worth every moment around that tree.
Then I thought about what the Bible said. “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).
Christmas is all about family. God’s family comes into the family through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, Ocala, FL 34472, where he lives with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Call him at 352-216-3025 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.