Curtis Peter Van Gorder
Christmas is such a magical time. A special aura seems to light the world. It is a day when Christ’s birth is acknowledged all over the world. However clouded in materialism Christmas may seem, it still brings God’s gift of love—Jesus—into more homes, hearts, and minds than any other holiday or event.
I asked friends and coworkers of various nationalities and backgrounds to help me make a collage of sorts by offering their impressions of Christmases past. Here’s a sampling of what we came up with.
…Christmas Eve was the one night each year that we kids went to bed early, so “tomorrow would come sooner.”
…sitting beside the Christmas tree when I was a little girl, eating too many chocolates while listening to the grownups tell stories.
…visiting my granddad for the first time when I was 11. We had lived in a faraway country my whole life. We prayed with him on that visit to receive Jesus. When he passed away not long afterwards, I was glad to have had the opportunity to share the best Christmas gift of all with him.
…receiving more gifts and toys than we could ever afford. My parents were full-time volunteers, so at Christmas they usually had very little to spend on gifts for us kids. But their spirit of giving throughout the year inspired those they had helped to lavish us with gifts. I learned early in life that when we do all we can to help others, God surprises and rewards us in special ways.
…shopping for a long time to buy a present for my mother with the little money that I had. I finally found a prism glass necklace that she treasured. When I visited her 40 years later, she still had it with her most expensive jewelry.
…caroling in the neighborhood door to door with my friends and how it touched the hearts of the people we sang to.
…scribbling Christmas cards to my friends and loved ones and receiving the same. I still bring those cards out every year and display them as a way of remembering old friends.
…my parents reading me a different part of the Christmas story from the family Bible every day during the week leading up to Christmas.
…listening to Celine Dion sing some great Christmas songs from her heart.
…performing for others at Christmas. Every Christmas is special because we have something to give others. It always inspires me to see the audience’s reaction. Each year and for every audience, it seems to somehow be just what they need.
…playing a different part each year in the Christmas play—the lowly donkey, the sympathetic innkeeper, an awesome angel, an awestruck shepherd, a majestic wise man, a proud father Joseph.
…gathering in our kitchen each day from December 1st to December 24th to open another door on our Advent calendar.
…the smell and taste of turkey with gravy.
…my parents making sure that each Christmas was meaningful. We sang carols and read verses from the Bible by candlelight. We also exchanged presents and had fun together, but the focus was on worship.
…feeling envious of other kids who got more toys than I did—but looking back now, I can’t even remember what those toys were. What I do remember fondly are the times that our family spent together at Christmas, appreciating each other and celebrating Jesus’ birth.
…sitting by the fire, drinking hot chocolate, and singing Christmas songs as a family.
…opening our home to visitors and sharing the joy of Christmas with them.
…a feeling of satisfaction after all the hard work of Christmas was done. Time to rest up, count my blessings, and thank God for all the love we shared.
May you have a joyous Christmas this year with your loved ones as you build memories together!