I don’t remember exactly what year it was, but there is one Christmas in particular that I remember as a kid growing up. My parents did an amazing job of making Christmas special.
Before heading off to Christmas Eve services in a tiny rural Catholic Church in Bryant, Iowa, we always turned all of the lights off, including the lights on the tree and the multi-colored lights hanging from the gutters of our house. It was the only time of the year I was ever eager to get to church. Admittedly, my eagerness wasn’t about getting to church, it was getting back home to open presents.
While away at church, Santa [a neighbor] would place gifts around the tree, and turn on all the Christmas lights. He would the take a few bites of the cookies I had left out for him, and chased it down with a gulp of milk. Finally, he would take the celery and carrot sticks back to his sleigh for the reindeer. Apparently, I had a soft spot for animals way back then.
Every year, I would start anticipating Christmas as soon as the weather turned cold and snow covered the ground. Yet, that was nothing compared to the anxiety I exhibited during the four-mile trip back home from church on Christmas Eve. As we would near our house, I could see that our outdoor Christmas lights were on. As the car turned into the drive, the Christmas tree in the window also glowing. Obviously, Santa had come!
I probably annoyed my two older brothers, as I would bolt out of the car and run into the house. The site of our glowing Christmas tree surrounded by a sea of presents was an unbelievable sight. After a quick scan to identify the largest gift in the room, I would look at the tag to see if the gift was for me. That year it was. My brothers insisted that I wait to open it. I don’t think I honored their request. My present that year – the G.I. Joe Hovercraft. It was exactly what I had wanted.
Looking back, I always seemed to get what I wanted. A radio controlled car from Sears. The G.I. Joe Hovercraft. I even got a Big Foot monster truck, but Santa had to send that one to me a few weeks after Christmas. Apparently a lot of kids requested the SST Muscle Machine. Even the year that I jokingly said I wanted a Chia-Pet, it was there under the tree.
I grew up in a home where money was tight. My Dad, a diesel mechanic, worked six days a week, and did odd jobs on Sunday’s to make ends meet. Despite our financial situation, I never felt any different from anyone else. In fact, I wouldn’t trade my childhood experience for anything different. What we may have lacked financially was more than made up by the love of my parents. I feel blessed to have been raised in a family with two loving parents.
As my wife and I prepare to travel back to my childhood home to celebrate another family Christmas, I’m thankful for all the gifts I’ve received in my life. The gifts are abundant, but nothing compares to the ultimate gift that was given to all of us in Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas and whose sacrifice on the cross set us free from sin.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:1-4 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
– Craig Robinson
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