Ah yes! Growing up as an American child in the mid to late 50’s through the early 60’s was a grand experience. We had it made. We all watched the Mickey Mouse Club and Superman. After viewing Superman, all the kids grabbed their families’ worst bath towel, tied them around our necks, we extended our arms out, and tore around the neighborhood while making sudden turns. I remember that if you had PF Flyers, US Keds or Red Ball Jets, you could run faster and jump higher. Those were the days…..
Of course I remember our Christmas traditions as well. We were a middle class family and none of us were saved/born again. Quite frankly, we were all lost as Christmas turkeys. We thought we were good people, and our goodness was based on our own merits. Like many of you, I learned the story of the corpulent elf who parked his sleigh on the roof, slid down the chimney, and left you whatever your little heart desired. He made the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny look kind of cheap in comparison. Santa was for me! I relished his visits with great avarice in my heart. I had a great imagination as a child, and actually “saw” him outside my bedroom window on the evening of December 24th in his sleigh pulled by reindeer with the full moon as a backdrop. If you polygraphed me as to the truth of this statement I would pass it because I really thought I saw him. Our parents had to take greater measures every year in order to convince us of the truth of this story because our grade school classmates were telling us other things. We always wondered how Santa Claus alone could service the entire planet in one night, and we also wondered why we saw several Santa Claus’s in different places. That is when we learned all about his many helpers in the shopping malls, etc., but the real Santa Claus did not spring into action until Christmas Eve. When our friends said the gifts were really from our parents, mom and dad said that we could not afford all of these expensive gifts. Only Santa could pull this off. The final year we “believed,” a lot of things happened in order to convince us of the truth about Santa Claus. A neighbor made racket on the roof while I was taking a bath. The presents left were ice cold like outside in Chicago since they actually came from the crawl space under our home. Santa only half finished the milk and cookies since he was in a hurry– a guise used by many. Our neighbor shouted “ho, ho, ho,” as he ran through the house with bells jingling. As I reflect on this, I have often wondered if the story is more for the “benefit” of the parents or the children? Mom and dad were eye witnesses to the happenings and told us blow by blow about Saint Nickolas tearing through our house. Of course January 3rd came around and we were back in school. We children all compared our presents with one another, and the kids in the know once again reminded us that Mr. Claus was not the real deal. I remember as a child feeling an emptiness when the closure finally came. What then WAS the meaning of Christmas? I certainly did not know. Like many Americans we too had a manger scene along with our other Christmas possessions but had very little understanding of what it truly represented. From that time onward, Christmas turned into a family occasion of giving, and just like your household, full of tradition. I always thought the movie “Christmas Story” with Ralphie, accurately represented a typical American family from that time era who knew not the Lord. Our dog ate our turkey one year, I was bullied on the way to/from school quite often (Remember I am from Chicago), and I even remember the kid whose tongue got stuck to the light pole in the school yard.
I was saved at the age of 27 in 1980. Since that time, Christmas gives me total peace, real meaning and consummate fulfillment. Yes, just like you I have learned that Jesus was probably not born on December 25, and that when pagan Rome instituted Christmas as a national day of worship under the rule of Emperor Constantine, Christ’s birth was simply incorporated within the Roman worship day previously called Saturnalia, whereby pagan gods were worshipped. It matters not at all to me. My Lord was born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life full of miracles, was crucified, dead and buried, He rose again on the third day, is seated at the right hand of God the Father, intercedes for the believer, and He is coming again. The Creator of the universe and Savior of our souls will soon come and rule with a rod of iron. He came the first time as a Lamb to the slaughter and will return as the Lion from the tribe of Judah. Whether He was born in Bethlehem on December 25th matters very little to me. This is when we celebrate His marvelous advent! “…..Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
Isaiah 9:6-7 “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.” (HCSB)