One cold night I was lying in bed ready to fall asleep when I heard what sounded like the jingle of bells. At that moment I was wide awake! Was what I was hearing real? Could all the stories and movies be true? Was that Santa and his sleigh on the top of our snow covered roof? When I was very young my parents would hand me the phone and there would be an cheery old man on the other end asking if I was a good girl that year and what I wanted for Christmas. I even had a list that we would send with the address: To Santa Claus the North Pole.
As a young school girl I was a true believer in Santa. My older brother would wake me early in the morning, sometimes as early as 4:00am, we’d tip toe quietly to the living room, he’d plug in the Christmas lights and there would be what seemed to be a mound of wrapped presents under and around the tree. As far as I was concerned, Christmas as a child truly was “…the most wonderful time of the year…”. Not only were there presents, there was a special “cheer” in our home. Mom and Dad seemed happy. There was no arguing. We’d visit family and share meals with one another, play with cousins, eat lots of sugar filled cookies, why wouldn’t a child not cherish the Christmas season.
Then one year the truth came out and I was told that Santa was NOT real! Can you say Heartbreak?!! I was devastated. I cannot tell you how old I was, but my parents separated when I was ten years of age so it was either that year or the year before that I heard the news. As I grew older, married and had children I and my husband decided to not raise our children teaching them for the next eight or so years of their life that there was a round, jolly old man that came down the chimney delivering toys to all the good little girls and boys. No. Why? You might be asking. “It’s harmless, it’s just for fun and fantasy, let the kids have fun!” The best reason is that I was devastated as a little girl! I was told a lie for my entire childhood. I remember getting in a heap of trouble if I was caught in a lie and here my parents led me to believe in something that was not true for more than eight years of my life. Allow me to share with you what we did teach our children. We taught them where the story came from, and that there was a man, a bishop who would bring gifts to children on December 6th. He did not have a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer. His name was St. Nicholas, a man with a kind heart. He was born in Europe around A.D. 245.
More importantly than St. Nicholas, we raised them to believe in the true meaning of Christmas: The birth of Jesus. As a little girl I did go to church every Sunday with my father and this is where I began to learn about Jesus. I do not remember hearing about Jesus in our home, at Christmas, nor any other time growing up except that my Grandma who I found out was praying for our entire family growing up, used to watch Christian tv shows and I remember her crying when the show would come on. I didn’t quite understand why she would cry, but I have a good idea that she was sheding her tears during her prayers that our family and her family would come to know Christ. I look forward to seeing her in heaven one day and thanking her for her dedication and faith.
The true meaning of Christmas is not about the gifts that we give to one another, it is about the gift of God’s love by sending his One and only Son Jesus Christ. God who became man and lived among us bringing glory to the Father by healing the sick, casting out devils and even raising the dead to life again and now sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He lived as a man, died for all mankind and God raised Him from the dead all because of Love.
If you want to know more about the life of Jesus I encourage you to read the Book of John in the new testament. You can access it online if you don’t have a Bible. The easiest way to read and understand it is to look for the New Living Translation (more modern) or the New International Version. (NLT or NIV). The Message Bible version is also good.
If you decide to received Gods gift of Love to you through His Son Jesus, follow Him, and find a church in your area that teaches regularly about what it means to love your neighbor and is active in helping others. Much of Jesus teachings have to do with loving others in action (The Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37). Mathew 25:31-46 he gives us a perfect description of Love in action. “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me something to drink, naked and you gave me clothing, sick and in prison and you visited me, a stranger and you took me in (homeless and provided shelter for me)…if you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to me.”