presents

When most people think of Christmas, their minds think of Santa Clause, turkey dinners, and weeks of preparatory shopping, and yes those things are a part of Christmas for most people, but there is a far more important reason for the Christmas season…the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Lord. Yes, I am aware that we don’t know the exact date of our Saviour’s birth, and many are quite certain that it was nowhere near December 25th, and in reality, not in winter. To most Christians, however, those minor details don’t matter, because we are talking about our Lord. It’s ok to celebrate Jesus anytime.

Most Christians think of gift giving as being symbolic of the greatest gift ever given…Jesus who came to earth to save us from our sin filled world by dying on the cross so that we would be able to go Heaven. Of course, no gift we could ever give could measure up to the gift Jesus gave us, but we can celebrate Jesus by having a giving spirit. After all, that is what Jesus was all about. I don’t mean presents, but rather the ultimate gift, the greatest love ever given…”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. What great gift could there ever be than to give His life so that we could live, and what greater reason could there ever be to celebrate Jesus. The date error, if there is one, makes no difference…just God’s love.

Christmas means different things to different people, of course, but I think that the most important thing is to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the real reason for the season…the birth of the Saviour of the world. Before Jesus came,we had no hope. We were lost, and going to Hell. After Jesus lived, died, and rose again, everything changed and hope returned. For Christians, there is nothing more important. Jesus is our advocate with the Father. He is the the true meaning o grace. His git to us…salvation, was not something we could ever earn. we were lost and all hope was gone. Then Jesus was born, and we had a reason to celebrate again. Happy birthday Jesus, and Merry Christmas everyone.

2 Decorating the treescan0015-4Christmas Eve is a day full of tradition. Maybe not as much tradition as Christmas Day, but tradition nevertheless. For some people, the Christmas gifts are opened on that day, and for others, maybe just one gift is opened. It is the start of the Christmas holiday. When we think of the birth of Christ, we also think of nighttime. Maybe that is why Christmas eve is more special to us…whether we realize it or not. For Christians, Christmas is one of the special days, because it represents the day that hope arrived on the Earth again. Before that, there was no hope, whether the people knew it or not.

For my grandparents, George and Harriet Byer, and my cousins, Raylynn and Doug Williams, it is a day to remember their wedding day, in addition to our Lord’s birth of course. In years gone by, people got married at times when the family could easily get together. I’m sure that is why Grandma and Grandpa chose that day. Christmas PastKids at ChristmasFor Raylynn and Doug, it seemed the perfect day, because of Grandma and Grandpa. I know that any day that a wedding takes place is special, but in our family, the Christmas Eve wedding is a very special one. It was what started the family.

Christmas Eve at my house, when I was growing up, meant singing Christmas carols and eating goodies, listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. We got to open a gift too, and it was always pajamas. We knew it would be, but that was ok. We knew there would be pictures in the morning opening the gifts, and wearing those pajamas, all crisp and new, just made is Christmas somehow. In fact, I don’t think it would have been Christmas in my mind, without those new pajamas. I really miss my parents, Collene and Al Spencer at Christmastime.

scan0051Corrie, Barry, & Amy in new PJsFor most of us, there is some celebration on Christmas Eve. For my husband, Bob’s family, Christmas Eve meant Chili, and later the addition of Lasagna, and his mom, Joann Schulenberg’s homemade cinnamon rolls. Then they opened the gifts, and the kids had a great evening. Since my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s passing, we have tried to continue that tradition, but we hadn’t had the cinnamon rolls, but my sister-in-law, Brenda wanted that tradition back. So, while they will not be like her mom’s cinnamon rolls, we will have them. Merry Christmas Eve everyone.

JesusThe presents are purchased, the packages wrapped, all of the commercialized aspects of the day are over now and there is finally time to take a moment to ponder the real reason for the Christmas season…the birth of our Saviour…Jesus. So often, we spend so much time rushing around trying to get ready for the holiday, that we have little time to think about the wonderful thing our Father, God did for us!! We were a world lost, and destined for Hell!! He had no obligation to help us. We got into this predicament by ourselves…and He could have left us there, but God’s love is not like human love. We hold grudges…even with those we love. God does not hold grudges, but rather, He set out to make a plan to turn it all around. He came up with a plan to send Jesus to Earth…and worked it out so that He lived a sinless life, as a human, and then paid the price… the ultimate price. And Jesus agreed to the plan. He gave his life for us so we could live our lives under grace, and receive Heaven and not Hell in the end.

So often, the birth of our Saviour is all but forgotten in the mix of Santa Clause and a big dinner. I find that really sad, especially in light of the sacrifice He made for us. I can’t imagine being God and deciding to take on a human form, much less a baby who is for much of its young life helpless, and forced to rely on others for all your needs. Then, while you had never sinned in any way, you are taken captive, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Then in the only way it could possibly work, Jesus was separated for God, while he took all the sins of the world on himself. It had to be, because the worst result of sin, is separation for God. That would be far worse than Hell could ever be. God’s love is the most important thing we have. It is what saves us from the pit of Hell.

Nativity sceneThere is nothing wrong with the Christmas traditions we cherish so much, and giving has always been what God is all about. The main thing is that in the midst of all of our traditions, we take time to be thankful for the greatest gift ever given. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16, one of the most important verses in a book that is the greatest book ever written…the Bible. God is love, and when we sinned, He stepped up and made a way for us to be reconciled to him. He sent a Saviour named Jesus. And that is the real reason for the Christmas season. Merry Christmas everyone!! May God bless you all!!

scan0110New TVsLet’s face it…we all love getting presents. Maybe it’s the excitement of finally seeing what it is, or maybe we kind of knew what we were getting anyway, but now we actually have it. Whatever the excitement is for you, you have to admit that you love getting presents. I think it all starts about the time that you are old enough to realize what those things in that toy box are used for, and then suddenly to connect that with the fact that once you tear off the paper on that box you are given, you will find a toy to add to your collection. For a kid that is among the greatest things that could possibly happen to you. I mean, toys are the best…right?

Then, came the day when you were give the inevitable gift of…clothes, for your birthday or Christmas!!! Your first thought was, “How lame is this!!” You might have even got a little bit annoyed, sad, or just downright mad. Of course, I seriously doubt if your parents were very happy with you…especially if you opened the gift in front a bunch of friends or family members, and then got mad. Parents tend to think your rudeness is not so special. Still, for many kids, getting clothes is the ultimate bummer. They know they need them, and really they like the clothes they get, but clothes just don’t qualify as a present!! It should be the number one rule of gift buying and giving. Don’t parents know this? I mean, they were kids once too…right? And if the kids are little enough, suddenly, the reality completely sinks in…their parents were never kids!!! Otherwise, they would know that you never buy clothes for a gift for a kid…never!!

Now, I know that as adults many of us have even requested clothes as a gift, but even then, you have to admit that the thrill of getting a gift can be lacking…just a little bit, when the gift is clothes. It doesn’t mean that you Wow!! Clothesscan0129don’t like the clothes. And I’m sure my girls and dad really did like them. In fact, I know that they all really liked the clothes they got!! Could it have been just a bad picture that revealed a face that was lacking in joy…you know, that, “wait!! I wasn’t ready” moment. At the very least, in the case of my dad, who would never have made mom think he didn’t like her gift, and as I said, he did. I know he did, because he wore that suit a lot. We all remember him in that one. So at least for him, I suspect it was a poorly timed picture. Nevertheless, the look on his face still strongly resembles that “clothes…really!!” look.

When our nephew, Barry was a little boy, he decided that he didn’t really like having his birthday on December 11th, because it was so close to Christmas. Many people with December birthdays feel the same way. It always seems like their birthday gets lost in all of the Christmas hustle and bustle, and they end up feeling gypped.

I’m not sure if it was in protest, or what exactly, but at some point, Barry decided to change things up a bit. Obviously your birthday is when it is, and you can’t change that fact, but Barry decided to forgo the gift part of it until his un-birthday came around. The date he chose for his un-birthday, was of course, June 11th, because that put it exactly 6 months later. His mom, my sister-in-law, Jennifer always said that the perfect birthday was June 25th, because it was exactly 6 months from Christmas, giving the person who had that perfect birthday, gifts exactly 6 months apart. Barry thought that was a pretty good idea, but his birthday just didn’t cooperate, so he settled for the un-birthday of Jun 11th.

I always thought that was such a funny idea, but very clever. I don’t think I would like having my birthday that close to Christmas, because I can see where it could be problematic for the birthday person. Still, I don’t know if I would have ever considered that it could be celebrated at a different time. Barry was definitely using his head when he came up with that idea…unless he had a little help from his mom, my sister-in-law, Jennifer, and that is entirely possible.

I don’t know if Barry still celebrates his birthday in June, but since today is his real birthday, I just want to say happy birthday Barry!! You have grown into a very special person, and we are very proud of you. And if you do still celebrate your birthday in June, I’ll try very hard to remember to wish you a happy un-birthday then.

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