Growing up in a simple home on a country farm, my family and I had little to brag about as far as material things go. Our life was filled with hard work yet we always found joy in the love of family and the peace we found in our relationship with the Lord.
Our home was a five room white clapboard house that originally started from two large rooms my grandfather had build when he and my grandmother had married and started their family many years earlier. Over the years the house had been added on to, first a dining room and small kitchen to the back of the house then later a larger kitchen and wash room. We had no inside water or bathroom but we didn’t know the difference because it was all we had ever known. It was a simple life yet one filled with love and laughter.
Our Christmases were a time when all the family gathered together to celebrate the birth of the Savior and the closeness of our family. Mama would cook for days preparing all the special foods we enjoyed like country ham, homemade mashed potatoes, green beans, all of which had come from our garden and the hog we had butchered earlier in the fall. Then there was those wonderful homemade chocolate pies and mama’s banana pudding made from scratch. No boxes for mama and only she knew the recipe, which was written in her mind. Those wonderful inviting smells of her home cooked meal filled the house as she worked her magic in the kitchen. The smell of country ham cooking along with the sweet smell of pies baking meant we would soon enjoy our special treats.
About a week before Christmas dad would take mama and us kids, mostly me and occasionally the grand kids since I was so much younger than my older brother and sister, out into edge of the fields somewhere on our farm and there we would find the perfect tree. Dad would cut it down and we would haul it back to the house in the old truck or on the wagon behind the tractor. When we got it home mama and I would string the lights and place all the ornaments, many of which were homemade, onto the tree. If I close my eyes today and sniff it seems I can still smell the fresh smell of cedar that filled our home on Christmas. To this day I never smell that scent without being carried back into my childhood to those special memories of Christmases as a child.
When it came to gifts we didn’t have much but it wasn’t about fine gifts but about the gift of family and friends and the love we shared with each other. When mama and daddy could afford it I might get a new baby doll or Barbie doll but lots of Christmases we were glad to just get our stocking filled with fresh fruit and some candy. Our greatest gifts were each other and the days spent with each other whether it was working or spending special time as family singing all those wonderful old gospel hymns around our Christmas tree.
Sometimes I wish I could take my grandchildren back to those simple times I lived where things weren’t so commercialized, a place where it wasn’t about the gift but the person who cared enough to sacrifice to give us the gift, to a slower time when things weren’t so rushed and family took the time to spend those special times with each other without hurrying to be somewhere else.
As I watch the world today I can’t help but feel they have lost the true meaning of Christmas, for isn’t Christmas about giving, the giving of love and a helping hand and especially about the greatest gift we ever received, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who came to bring us the gift of Grace and Salvation? What more could we really ask for than to have family to love and share our lives with and to feel the love and peace our heavenly Father showers down on us.
So what does Christmas mean to me. It means loving and sharing special times with family and friends but mostly it means taking this special time to remember the sacrifice my Lord and Savior made for me, for all of us. It means remembering how much He loves me every day of the year and it means me giving him my gift in return, which is accepting Him as my Savior and the Lord of my life then living my life for him each and every day throughout the year.
My dear friends I pray each of you has a truly blessed Christmas with family and friends gathered around you and I pray you receive the blessing of the love of Christ into your lives each and every day of the coming New Year.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.