Thoughts of Christmas

Weekly Sabbath  Survey
Thoughts of Christmas   —  11-30-13
Well, here we are, the Sabbath, the day of rest, right after Black  Friday, or as I like to call it, “The Annual Running of the Bulls of  Shopping.”  Since most participants are women, I could say ‘the  running of the cows’ but that might offend some of my women readers, so I will  leave well enough alone.
So where do you, as an individual, come out in this Super Bowl  of commercialism? Think about it. Not just for Black Friday but for the  whole Christmas buying extravaganza. December is the only time of year the  secular world LOVES us Christians. This yearly buying spree is part of the  American culture whether you know Jesus or not. December is the month of the  year that puts the retail merchants into ‘the black.’ They operate in or near  ‘the red’ the other 11 months.
Late one Christmas Eve years ago, I was in a little store in my  home town, buying a last minute gift for a person we weren’t expecting to be  with us. It was always my plan that no one would just sit and watch while others  opened one gift after the other. That time I think I got a nut cake in a  little tin and a large package of socks for the ‘stray’ we would have with  us.
It was getting late, starting to get dark, as the manager  checked me out. He was the only one left in the store. I knew him, of course,  small town. He remarked that I was out kind of late and surely needed to get on  home. I explained about the visitor. I told him I shopped for months finding  gifts for each family member and was usually through with the buying before  Thanksgiving. We talked on about the commercialism (this was in the 1970’s,  nobody had heard of Black Friday, and the commercialism was nothing  compared to what it is today!)  He smiled as if he knew some secret and I  said, “What?”  He said, “You know what Christmas Eve is, don’t you?”   I said, “Tell me!”  He replied, “It’s the night all the merchants walk up  and down the aisles of their stores at closing time, looking at the empty  shelves, and singing ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’.”
I laughed before I could stop myself – it being a sort of a  sacrilege and all. But I never forgot the sting of what he said. It was a seed  that over time has developed into a plan. Every year my family has tried to find  a way to make this time of year more meaningful than a ton of gifts. My boys  grew up knowing that we go to church for Christmas Eve communion service,  then back home and read the Christmas Story in Luke before any gifts would be  opened. Sometimes we sang carols, too, or the older kids did a  skit their Granny had planned. But those shiny presents with their big  colorful bows were calling our names the whole time!
Since that simpler time, what was traditionally a quiet night  with family, and the big meal the next day, has been upstaged by a  financial frenzy that goes on for a month, I have decided that I don’t  want to be a part of that any more. This year I’m thinking of a  Christmas of family traditions. What we do rather than what we get. I am  planning to have our usual tamale supper on Christmas Eve out here at Hens  Acre Farm. At this time we will love one another, eat tamales and beans,  bake our Christmas Eve olive tarts, read the Christmas Story, and just enjoy one  another at this happy time of year. We will probably sing, too. Each  family can have their own package opening at home, but when we are all  together there will be no gift exchange. This year I will be giving nice  birthday presents to my children and grandchildren. But no gifts at Christmas. I  may not even put up our little table top tree.(I don’t want to be a total  Grinch, so maybe I will put it up.) 
I’m thinking of Christmas Dinner the next day with  family and/or friends but, at a restaurant. I can’t pull off a huge holiday meal  any more. My daughter-in-law did the whole shebang this past Thursday for  inlaws, outlaws, the entire tribe. I think she shouldn’t have to do it  again at Christmas.
Maybe this should be the title of my new plan, Less  Gift-giving and More Thanks-giving. 
Thanks be to God for His indescribable  gift!  The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Yeshua ha Meshia). 2 Corinthians 9:15; Romans  6:23 9:15
Charlene  Reams Manning
Believer  in the Lord Jesus Messiah
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