It Is Christmas

Hmmmm. A blog post for Christmas Day. A quandary. All of you who read this no doubt have other things to do today, so perhaps we should keep this short. Then again, Christmas seems too good of a topic to just say “Merry Christmas” and leave it at that. Let’s compromise.

I just looked, and Blog Post Friday occurring on Christmas Day last happened in 2016 when this Blog was just a baby. Or maybe a toddler – not old enough to have any kind of maturity, but old enough to move around and break things.

I went back and looked at that one, and decided that I had a good idea then. All the world was writing things about Christmas, so best to not add to the gush of holiday sentiments. I can certainly do that again, but then again, perhaps there is room for a little something in addition.

The very first Christmas of which I can remember anything at all would have been that which rolled around when I was about 2 1/2 years old. The “1/2” is a big deal at that age. I vividly recall Christmas eve when my parents thought it the best idea ever to have me sit under the Christmas Tree with the baby sister (who had been with us for just over a month) on my lap. There were two problems with this idea, neither of which seems to have occurred to the adults.

First, we had a real, freshly-killed Christmas tree in the living room. And we all know that nobody ever chose a Christmas tree with branches high enough from the bottom to comfortably accommodate a sitting human, even a very small one. The pine needles jabbed into my neck something fierce, and no matter how the parents tried to get me to sit up straight and smile, it was no use. Little sister be damned, I had to escape those needles.

The second problem was that there were loads of wrapped presents under that tree. Did you ever know the little kid who could resist the lure of a nearly unlimited supply of gifts? Even worse was the one gift that had escaped the wrapping paper – a new Flexible Flyer sled. Just try sitting a 2 year old next to a new sled under a Christmas tree and watch what happens. Putting a new infant on his lap is surely in the bottom 10% of good ideas.

You can see the result here. It’s not a bad Christmas picture but it is surely not the one my parents had in mind. And the black and white photograph does not do justice to the full-color memory I carry of that scene.

More than a few years (decades, even) have passed since that Christmas (1961, if you really need to know) and a lot has changed. But tell the truth – hasn’t the entirety of 2020 been like you were getting stabbed in the neck with pine needles while being forced to do something you did not want to do? And when everything you wanted was either out of reach or not allowed?

Perhaps the problem with this view is in what we value and what we want. Maybe the best approach is to forget the Christmas tree, the decorations, the gifts, the parties, the rich foods and overabundance of drink that we are missing and go back to what the day is really supposed to be about.

Christmas is a day about the birth of a little child who literally changed everything. It’s about a Creator who came to live among us and to be that sacrifice to end all sacrifices – to be the one who steps forward and picks up the tab, not for merely a nice dinner, but for our entire lives. If we consider Christmas in this way, the trials of a pandemic and whatever else life has thrown our way lately become more annoyance than crisis because we can look forward to that which has been promised.

It is in this spirit that I offer to each of you my wishes for a joyful, peaceful, love-filled, blessed and all-around wonderful Christmas.

15 thoughts on “It Is Christmas

    • Thanks Linda. Photos were so much less common then – if there were a couple dozen photographs taken in a year in those days, there was a real shutterbug in the house. Maybe I remember the night so clearly is that I have been reminded of it each time I saw this picture which was in an album I could see cover to cover in 10 or 15 minutes.

      Thanks for the Christmas wishes.

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      • One day I will write about my neighbors who had one Kodak Instamatic camera and four kids and took one photo per year of the four of them at Christmas time. They never developed the film, put it in a drawer. After they both passed away and the kids, now grown and grown children of their own, they discovered the camera, had the film developed … how nice for them to see those photos. The film had not been damaged in the least after leaving it in the camera all that time which amazed me.

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      • I thought so too JP … I thought I’d save this story for a post at Christmas one time, since they aimed to capture the shot each Christmas. I was amazed the pictures printed out so well. That is interesting the old film is without issues – perhaps they stored it in the freezer?

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  1. A very profound and meaningful post JP. But henceforth I shall think of the “pine needle analogy” whenever I reflect on the year 2020. Your baby sister looks like a Christmas doll. I have exactly one photo (color) of me sitting under the tree – I look about ten and am wearing an ugly yellow sweater I do not remember every owning, not counting the one (black and white) where I am an infant asleep in a buggy, a few months old. Photos were rare occurrences in our house then too.

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    • Why thank you. I got a camera when I was a kid, and learned early on that with twelve whole exposures to a roll, I had to make them count. I think the downside is that most of those old photos were of the “stand still, . . . smile” school. Candid shots of everyday life were rare things.

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