I can’t believe that the holidays are here again. How did that happen? The last time I noticed, it was springtime and I was planting seeds and renewing my flower beds, and now I see by my morning paper that it’s almost Christmas. Oh, my dear friends, take a deep breath. Life is busy; life is messy. Sometimes life seems to take more than we have to give. But take heart, the Lord is there to help you through.
A granddaughter was telling me that she was worried that she might not be able to provide a good Christmas for her children. Both she and her husband work, and like many young couples there are always financial struggles. I tried to remind her that having parents who love them, a strong faith, friends, and a warm house when the winter winds blow makes a good Christmas. Children love the bright colors, the trees, the tinsel, and the wrappings of the holiday season. They love reindeer and cookies and the occasional snowball. But the heart of Christmas is home and family. I believe that if you give your children time and love, you give them everything.
Several of my grandchildren have chosen not to have television in the home, much as our Amish neighbors. I certainly didn’t have it when I was growing up. Often the toys that children think they can’t live without are the ones displayed on the screen. Think of the favorite possessions of your childhood, the ones you remember best . . .
My own Christmas was much like that of the Amish today. We did exchange gifts on Christmas morning, but the day was about so much more than opening presents. There was church and the Christmas pageant where I got to wear a bathrobe and elaborate head covering so that I could portray an angel delivering God’s promise on the birth of His son. That was cold apple cider, and sweet peppermint candy in a crinkly bag, and the smiles and good wishes of our friends and neighbors. It was my mother taking extra care as she braided my hair and tied green bows in it, and it was my father laughing and swinging me high in the air over a snowdrift outside the church so I wouldn’t get my black church shoes wet.
And what toys do I remember? A cowboy hat, a bow and arrow, crayons and coloring books, games, and most of all books. We had nothing that lit up, made noise, or marched around our living room and was powered by batteries. But we had grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and sometimes strangers at our Christmas table.
So, my advice is, to take heart. Don’t dwell on what latest toy or designer clothing you can’t give your children at Christmas. Give them memories of shared cookie baking, stories read aloud, popcorn popped on the stove, and walking outside to see the stars on a cold winter’s night. Love them, teach them, share the things that are important and will make them strong enough to face whatever the world brings. If you do, you’ll insure a much more stress free holiday than one that leaves you worrying about how to pay the bills after the holidays.
And to all of you, my dear friends, I wish you good reading, a joyous Thanksgiving, a merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year.