Learning to celebrate Christmas

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, December 27th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything In It, some more reflections on Christmas from listeners.

REICHARD: Yeah, the first one’s a fun story from listener Dave Sable in Deep Gap, North Carolina. It’s a bit longer than what we’ve run so far. We think you’ll enjoy it.

SABLE: Back when we were in “the one true church,” we had two rules: The first rule was that no one in the church owned a television. The second was that we didn’t celebrate Christmas. The great thing about being in an oppressively legalistic church is that you get to become very creative. You get to draw upon your sanctified imagination to maintain a front of overcoming holiness on the one hand, and nuanced sensitivity that works around the system to get what you want on the other.

When my wife and I were engaged, Brother Bob reached out to us to go to a local coffee shop where he and his wife Carol could share with us their experience and wisdom to help us in our forthcoming marriage. We met them on a Monday night. Brother Bob sat me next to him on his side of the table. Our wives sat on the other side. I looked up. Bob had skillfully sat me and him directly in front of a television playing Monday night football. Now, I don’t think we actually learned anything about marriage that night, but my wife did develop into a rather skilled wide receiver.

Seven years later, after the children were born, we left the one true church, though the rules to some degree went with us. Our Sunday school class discovered that we had never had a Christmas tree and, thus, no ornaments. So one evening they put together their used Christmas decorations and showed up unexpected to our house caroling. At last, we could be like other families, form tradition. We let our boys choose personalized ornaments that had painted on the side “Merry Christmas, Jennifer.”

Some years later we moved across the country to the mountains of North Carolina where Christmas trees are grown. We had still not gotten a Christmas tree of our own, but we were miles away from the judgmental looks of the one true church. It was time for the rite of passage. Everything was closed down on that Christmas Eve in our small town. We pulled into a deserted Christmas tree lot where all the trees had been sold. Over by the dumpster were some discards. We looked up the street. We looked down the street. We then flung open the hatchback, threw in a discarded tree, slammed the trunk and sped home. We pulled into the garage, closed the door, drew all the blinds, put up the ornaments that said “Merry Christmas, Jennifer,” and we did us a Christmas tree.

The kids are grown now. We have since replaced our used ornaments with, well, whatever caught our eyes at the Big Lots throughout the year. The one true church had long disbanded. Sometimes when I sit at night before our lighted Christmas village, I think, “Merry Christmas, Jennifer, whoever you are.” 

EICHER: I think we all need a Jennifer.

REICHARD: ….to counteract the Scrooges in life, yes!

EICHER: That was so worth it. Well, we have time for one more.

LONGABAUGH: This is Cynthia Longabaugh. I’m from Gig Harbor, Washington, where I teach middle school at Lighthouse Christian. Christmas, to me, is community and Christ. And I think the carols of Christmas capture it best: To be with you/to be with you/I love this time of year/it always brings me here/to be with you.

And joy to the world/the Lord has come/veiled in flesh the Godhead see… to save us all from satan’s power when we were gone astray. And the government shall be upon His shoulders. King of kings and Lord of lords. Alleluja.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

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