Saturday is Christmas, which means different things to different people. It can range from only being a day marking the birth of Jesus, to a holiday on which gifts and food are the only focus.
If you’re like me, Christmas is a combination of those two extremes, with a heavy emphasis on he birth of Jesus.
What I mean by that is my wife and I, like our parents before us, raised our two children believing Christmas is when Jesus was born.
At the same time, our home has always had a Christmas tree with gifts placed beneath, as well as around it. Incredible meals, prepared by my wife, and later with the help of our daughters, and even other folks gathered for the feast, are always served on the china we received at our wedding.
If it wasn’t for Christmas, our china might still be in the original packages! The point is Christmas has always been a very special time in our home, different than any other holiday.
Not too far from our tree is the Manger Scene. It is a reminder to us that in our family, Christmas is so much more than opening gifts and eating.
After opening all the gifts, there is a final gift to unwrap – The Jesus Gift.
It’s wrapped in gold colored paper.
(Note: all our other gifts are wrapped in newsprint … imagine that!)
With the Jesus Gift, following a script handed down by my mom and dad, we recognize the significance of Christmas in our lives, not just for a day, but also throughout the year.
The opening of gifts is fun, of course, but we always come back to the reason for the season.
My wife’s mom always has a birthday cake at Christmas. We all gather around the table after opening gifts, and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
This past weekend we were in Bryan celebrating Christmas with my wife’s side of the family.
For reasons outside our control, the celebration was moved from a banquet room at a restaurant, to my mother-in-law’s farm on the edge of town.
It ended up being the perfect setting, one I just realized while writing this column.
It was chilly in the barn, maybe like it was the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but it was not uncomfortable. After eating, and watching the grandkids open gifts, out came Jesus’ birthday cake!
Shortly thereafter, one of the grandchildren was found jumping from round hay bale to another in the barn next door.
Biblical? Who knows, but pretty cool just the same.
Today, as a grandfather, I take much joy watching our six grandchildren, led by their parents, following a similar path.
The focus is the same, but the route used might be different.
One grandson played the role of Joseph in his school’s Christmas play.
Obviously, the school he attends is a Christian school.
Even though he is at a private school, it doesn’t change the fact that he is still a child. The young man wasn’t too happy about being Joseph, because Joseph simply wasn’t as cool (as in robe worn), compared to the awesome looking wise men that traveled from afar.
I was even called in to help provide support, and to let him know Joseph was a cool dude, as well as the lead male role in the play.
To a seven-year-old boy, even Poppie’s encouragement didn’t make much difference.
In the end, of course, he got over it. Based on the pictures I saw, he was a pretty cool Joseph – and he probably won’t have any long-term neurological problems after having to dress in an uncool drab-colored robe.
Whatever your beliefs are about Christmas, I hope you are able to have a great time with family and friends.
Don’t be offended if I greet you with, “Merry Christmas.” That’s what I do.
I won’t be offended if you greet me in a different manner this season. That’s what you do!
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, however you celebrate the moment, the day, or the week.
Be careful if you’re hitting the road this weekend, and please, don’t drink and drive.
Until next week, have a good week!
Mike Probst can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.