What Does Christmas Mean to You?
By Paul Hayden
December 25, 2017
For some reason, this year I feel more 'Christmas spirit' than I have had in quite a few years past. Maybe the spreading white in my beard is reaching clear down into my heart and doing something magical.
I haven't been with my dad at Christmas since 1961 when I was only nine. He turned 44 that year. I miss him - no one could know how much. This year he would have turned 100, on December 17.
Memory is a funny thing - I don't really remember a single thing my dad ever got for me. Try as I might I have no idea what I wanted, or what he and my mom "got" for me. I don't remember much at all about him. But I do remember the love and care. I know he loved me.
When I was a kid, at night after my mom and dad tucked us in - my brother and sister and me - they would go downstairs and from the bottom of the stairs, and they would call up to us kids, "I love you and like you." We would echo back, "I love you and like you."
I remember participating in the annual Christmas pageant at church. I was a son of the pastor, and I usually played a shepherd or maybe a wise man. With the appropriate subdued reverence reserved for the church sanctuary, and with the expected stumbles, glitches, and forgotten lines, we told the Christmas story with readings and acting skills of first- to sixth-graders that wowed the captive audience (the parents of all the actors, of course).
What might my life have been if he had lived and been my dad for many more years? Maybe I might have been a better dad for my five kids. Who knows? But I know my mom and dad loved me.
I was fortunate enough to have had a good stepdad as well. He was a farmer. My mom was blessed to become more than friends with him, and she married him less than two years after my dad died. He was a good man, but he had never been married before (at age 51!) - he loved mom, and she loved him. He was a blessing in our lives. He was never my dad, but I loved and respected him - he loved us and cared for us all as his family. When I was 30, he died at age seventy - he would have been 105 years old this year!
Mom had two husbands, and she lost them each after only twenty years of marriage. We joked that she just wore them out. She was a wonderful woman, a good lady, and a great mom. She had a big heart, but you did NOT want to cross her…
Mom loved Christmas, getting and wrapping the presents for her family. She was usually DONE by December 1 with the gift preparations, so she could focus on decorating and cooking and enjoying the holiday festivities. She has been gone 22 years; she would have been 92 this year. I can’t believe it. I must be getting old!
Do you still have your parents? Spend some time with them. Ask them questions, as if they might be gone tomorrow. They will be gone - sooner or later - and then you will not be able to ask them these questions. As an older parent myself, I have the same longings common to many to go back in time and be a kid with my parents again. But I cannot. Time and life go on, and the parents are gone now.
Do you have kids? Bless them with love. They might say they want presents, but what they need is your presence. It is not always easy, I know, to do what your kids like to do. But see if you can, as much as you can, to share love on their level. Again, as an older parent, I wish I could go back in time and hold my kids again, cuddle them, and maybe get a ‘re-do’ on some things I didn’t do so well.
So, what does all this mean? Christmas brings back memories, good and bad. I have sat here this afternoon, going back in thoughts, happily smiling at times, and with some tears, too. Time was irrelevant, as I was listening to some great Christmas music with a glass of eggnog, and enjoying some rich and warm memories which are far better than even fresh, warm sugar cookies.
Blessings to you this holiday season. Spend some time reflecting on what God has given you in your life. Give thanks, to God, and to those still around you. Share God’s love wherever and whenever you can.
Paul Hayden is a Christian believer, and an American patriot, necessarily in that order. He is a student of the Bible, and is avidly interested in our role in the context of history, as understood through the heart and eyes of faith. Paul has lived and traveled somewhat widely, and now lives in the heartland of the U.S. (central Illinois), with his wife Donna - they have five grown children. Since December of 2016, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief of www.ConservativeTruth.org.
"I was raised by a Christian minister, Kenneth Hayden, until his death when I was 10. Then my mom married a farmer. So I was raised in a very down-to-earth home. My faith has grown through the years, but both in conjunction with the institutional church and through small groups and individuals, including books as well as group settings, where deep, sincere faith is shared that aligns with Biblical truth."