So once again it is Christmas Day. This is the 55th Christmas I’ve experienced, but I don’t remember some of the early ones in my life.
In my early days, my parents and I would sometimes get together with relatives as seen in this picture from when I was just 4 years old and my cousin Sue was just 3. That’s my Uncle Bill and Aunt Maria, along with our Grandma and my Mom is also in the picture. I guess my Dad snapped the picture since he’s not in it and this was way before selfies were the rage.
My parents raised me in a Lutheran church environment. We went to church on Sundays and at Christmas and Easter the place was packed with those who only attended on those special days.
By the time I was in high school however my folks had become Christmas/Easter church attenders. My dad figured since I attended a Lutheran High School and we had chapel once a week at school, that was enough.
My Christian beliefs were more like Christian habits or traditions. A lot of head knowledge and ritual but not a lot of heart.
I never denied my Christianity, but at the same time, it was not a dominate part of my life.
After high school, I worked as a radio disc jockey and air personality and fell into my parents routine of attending church twice a year, on the big holidays.
Then in 1982 I met Karen. She also came from a “religious” background. Baptist to be exact. Neither one of us were living our lives in a way that would have been called Christian. One day we went to a movie and then talked about our beliefs. God used Karen to challenge me and that challenge in turn led to Karen returning to her Christian roots. For me, I went from being a Christian due to habit/tradition/head knowledge to having a full relationship that penetrated my heart. Some call this becoming born again.
Life did not become perfect. As a matter of fact, I became annoyingly on-fire for God. So much so that my parents asked me not to talk about it for awhile.
Karen and I married, had 3 kids and went through many ups and downs that young families face. We ended up divorced. But through it all I still had my Christian faith.
Now nearly 20 years after the divorce, both of us have remarried and remained friends. Our spouses are friends. And all share a common Christian faith.
Christmas for me and my bride of nearly 14 years, Kathy is a mixture of old traditions from our youths and new ones we created several years ago. Yesterday we had kids and grandkids over for our Very Snowflake Christmas Contest and had a wonderful time.
But as a Christian, it’s not only about Christmas and Easter. Those are two important opportunities for the world to recognize Christianity. But for Kathy and myself, Christianity is a part of our core beings. Each of us live our lives according to our faith and live it out daily both purposefully and with the opportunities that each day presents.
The Christmas Thing is simply a recognition that Jesus was born a couple thousand years ago as the Son of God and Son of Man (via his birth mom, Mary). In a few months we will have the Easter Thing. That is when we recognize that Jesus lived a sinless life as a human being and was put to death on a cross like a common criminal in those days, but rose from the tomb a few days later, Easter, to complete the cycle of sin/death and sacrifice/forgiveness made possible and available to each human being via God’s Grace.
While Jesus had some 30 or so years on earth, we each also have a limited time on this planet to live. As Christians we are to be examples and witnesses to others of Christ. We are imperfect but we are also forgiven and it all works out in the end.
As a kid growing up Christmas time was always exciting with anticipation of gifts and presents. Today my goal is similar, to look for opportunities to give.
Give to my wife, give to my family, give to my friends, give to strangers. Give to people who I meet through my work and professional life, give to those whom I will never receive anything in return.
Give with words, wisdom, action. Give by listening, with time, with empathy. Give encouragement, give thanks and give appreciation.
These are all ways that I make this Christmas Thing a year round, daily event.
I would love to hear your story too, feel free to drop me a note or comment.