The Nightmare After Christmas
By Dr. James L. Snyder
Technically, Christmas is over... all over our living room floor, that is. Piles of wrapping paper in this corner and empty boxes in that corner, and colorful ribbons from here to there, all evidence that Christmas must have been a success this year.
I was reclining in my chair, sipping a nice cup of hot chocolate while the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage was cleaning up the kitchen. In our own little world, both of us were reveling over the past Christmas holiday. For us, it is such a nice time of the year when families get together and just enjoy the season.
My wife and I have come through various phases when it comes to Christmas.
Phase one; we spent our first Christmas in our own little apartment. Married only six months, all we had was each other. I must confess this was the cheapest Christmas we ever had. All I had to do was buy one Christmas present for my new bride.
Phase two; it was not long until the sound of little feet pattering down the hallway changed our Christmas forever. We had approximately three children; I say approximately because they ate like a herd of elephants. I know, I had to pay the grocery bill. But Christmas at that time was a wonderful event of excitement and surprises. So Christmas was now becoming a more expensive item in our family budget.
Phase three; is where we are at now. The children are all grown up and have children of their own. Now it is time for the grandchildren to come storming through the front door and be amazed by all of the gifts underneath the Christmas tree. It is almost like reliving your childhood.
Christmas gets more expensive as we get older. I am looking forward to that phase of senility when I do not know what is happening or how much things are costing.
I must say that I enjoyed each phase at the time. Each phase seemed to get better and better.
Those who opposed the Christmas season must not have enjoyed the Christmases such as my wife and I have enjoyed. Having wiggly, squiggly, and giggly grandchildren all over the living room floor opening up their gifts and making a mess is an experience no one should miss.
As I was pondering our past Christmas, I thought about how much goes in preparing for Christmas. There is the shopping... the parties... the wrapping of presents. Reflecting on the past Christmas, it came to my mind that we often spend too much, eat too much and laugh too much on our way to Christmas day. So much is put into getting ready for Christmas that there is a great let down the day after Christmas.
There is no silence quite as loud as the silence that dominates the house the day following Christmas.
I used to think that good old St. Nick had the most difficult job in the world. I often wondered how he ever accomplished all that he did on Christmas. After all, he has to make the stuff, pack the stuff, ship the stuff and then stuff himself down a chimney. Not to mention that he usually stuffs himself with Christmas cookies. So the difference between Christmas cookies and other cookies is that Christmas cookies have no calories.
But I got to thinking. Santa Claus has the easiest job in the world. He does not have to stick around the day after Christmas. He does not have to worry if people like what they got for Christmas. Nor does he have to contend with returning gifts. I never know what to get anybody.
Then my mind traveled in the direction of my purchases this past Christmas. What was the condition of my credit card? This Christmas, I used it so much that it was at the brink of a meltdown. So I pulled it out of my wallet, and unless my mind was playing tricks on me, it did feel a little warm.
I had a little frightening thought. Did I write down all my purchases in my checkbook? I must confess that my shopping is usually a receipt-challenged experience. I have no idea what happens to my receipts once I purchase an item. What if somebody wanted to return one of my gifts? How would they do it without a receipt?
Then I revisited my thoughts about good old St. Nick. Perhaps he was wiser than I gave him credit for at the time. His job was simply to bring Christmas into the home. He did not worry about if he got the right present for the right person or not. Sure, he had a list, but he only checked it twice. Then he forgot about it.
Christmas is not for fretting and worrying about if you got the right present for the right person. Rather, Christmas is to enjoy the experience of simply giving. Not so much what you give, as it is the act of giving itself.
It was God who set a standard for Christmas. The Bible tells us, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Setting back in my easy chair with my hot chocolate, I exchanged the nightmare for the satisfaction I felt in giving to people I loved.
[Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, Ocala, FL 34483, where he lives with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone 1-352-216-3025, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Website is www.jamessnyderministries.com.]