I have been trying lately to remember my first Christmas. I know my memory isn't perfect, but I thought maybe I could bring up some old memories of my first Christmas.
Unfortunately, I couldn't think of a thing about that first Christmas of mine. Of course, it might be that I was only five months old at the time.
Down through the years, I have celebrated more Christmases than I want to let on. It's not that I'm old; I just haven't died yet.
The thing about Christmas was all the stuff I was getting. I thought Christmas was all about me and all I wanted for Christmas and all that would make me happy.
I remember my parents taking me downtown to sit on Santa's lap and tell what I wanted for Christmas. That's what I thought Christmas was all about.
I was a little disturbed when my siblings came on the scene, and Christmas was no longer all about "me." For some reason, they thought they were part of Christmas. Being the terrific brother that I am, I allowed them to have some of the Christmas time around the tree.
Then I was introduced to the fact that not only was I not the focus of Christmas but now I needed to purchase Christmas presents for my siblings.
Things went along nicely, and then another thing changed everything in my Christmas activity.
Going to a Bible school up in New York, I happened to meet a young lady. Before I could process everything, I found myself married.
That Christmas we spent with my wife's family. At first, I thought the whole neighborhood had come to celebrate Christmas with us. Then, much to my chagrin, I realized these were siblings to my wife. I don't remember how many there were; I couldn't count them; they were running around too fast.
Then other things began to happen. One by one, children came into our family. Fortunately, we only had three children, unlike my wife's parents, who had somewhere near 100, at least by my calculation.
It wasn't long before I realized that a Christmas song with the word “jingle” in it meant that I was supposed to spend a lot of my coin for Christmas.
Now, Christmas was not about me, or was it? It was about me paying for Christmas, and the recipients seem to be growing without stop.
It took a while for me to come to the right conclusion that Christmas is more than "jingle, jingle." I came to that conclusion when one Christmas we were celebrating at our home, and our children and grandchildren were all around the Christmas tree opening up presents.
I sat back and just watched. Sure, I got a couple of Christmas presents. But that wasn't what Christmas was for me. I saw my family around that tree and realized that that's what Christmas was all about. Family coming together and enjoying one another.
Then I thought about what the Bible said. "And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:6-7).
Christmas is all about family. God's family comes into the family through the Lord Jesus Christ.
[Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, Ocala, FL 34472, where he lives with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Call him at 352-216-3025 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.]