I’ve been trying lately to remember my first Christmas. I know my memory isn’t perfect, but I thought maybe I could bring back some old memories from my first Christmas.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything about that first Christmas of mine. Of course, it could be that he was only five months old at the time. Still, I tried to remember some of those old Christmases in the past.
Over the years, I’ve had more Christmases than I care to let on. It’s not that he’s old; I just haven’t died yet.
The thing about Christmas was all I was getting. The first Christmas I remember, I received a bunch of presents under the tree. None of my siblings had shown up at the time, so I was the center of attention for several Christmases. That was the essence of true joy.
I thought Christmas was all about me and everything I wanted for Christmas and everything that would make me happy.
I remember my parents taking me downtown to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what he wanted for Christmas. That’s what I thought Christmas was about.
I was a bit unsettled when my brothers entered the picture, and Christmas wasn’t just about “me” anymore. For some reason, they thought they were part of Christmas. Being the big brother that I am, I allowed them to spend some Christmas time around the tree.
Then I became aware of the fact that not only was I not the focus of Christmas, but now I needed to buy Christmas gifts for my siblings. That was a hard thing to get over. What did they do to deserve my Christmas presents?
I finally processed that and discovered that giving can be fun too.
Things went well, and then something else changed everything in my Christmas activity.
Going to a Bible school in New York, I met a young woman. Before she could process everything, I found myself married. How that happens, men have no idea. I had to remind myself that weddings are for wives, not husbands. The husband who allows the wife to plan the wedding is a happy guy in the end.
When we got married, I didn’t realize how everything in my life was going to change.
Then came his first Christmas as a married man, for which he was not prepared.
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 that they were my wife’s brothers. I don’t remember how many there were; I couldn’t count them; they were running too fast.
I have never experienced a Christmas like this in my entire life. The thing is that we had to buy gifts for the whole family. I was able to empty Wal-Mart with all my purchases.
Opening those gifts, I couldn’t remember what I got and who I got it for. But it was the beginning of a different Christmas season than the one I experienced up to that point.
Then other things started to happen. One by one, the children came to our family. Fortunately, we only had three children, unlike my wife’s parents, who had close to 100, at least by my calculations.
I eventually discovered that Christmas was not about me at all. There was a big adjustment for me thinking about the Christmas season. Not being a qualified shopper, I had to rely on my wife to do all the shopping, which she is an expert at.
It wasn’t long before I realized that a Christmas song with the word “jingle” in it meant I was supposed to spend a lot of money on Christmas.
Now, Christmas wasn’t about me, was it? It was about paying me for Christmas, and the recipients seem to grow without stopping.
I had my parents and my brothers to buy Christmas gifts. I had my wife’s parents and her siblings buy Christmas presents. Then I had my children buy Christmas presents.
Why oh why is it about “me”?
It took me a while to come to the correct conclusion that there is more to Christmas than “tinkle, jingle.” I came to that conclusion one Christmas we were celebrating at home, and our children and grandchildren were around the Christmas tree opening presents.
I sat and just watched. Sure, I have a couple of Christmas presents. But that was not what Christmas was for me. I saw my family around that tree and realized that’s what Christmas was all about. Family together and enjoying each other.
The “jingle, jingle” was just the door that opens the family celebration. On second thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that all the jingle in the world is worth every moment around that tree.
Then I thought about what the Bible says. “And it came to pass that while they were there, the days of childbirth were fulfilled. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, for there was no room. for them in the inn” (Lk 2, 6-7).
Christmas is about family. The family of God comes into the family through the Lord Jesus Christ.