The Spirit of Christmas?

“My name is Stan Means.” (“Hello, Stan Means,” says my imaginary crowd as I stand before them to make my declaration.)  “I am a Scrooge!” (The crowd applauds at my honesty.)

Okay, I guess I need to take this a bit further. I grew up in a rather poor working class town. My dad was a public school teacher making about the same money as an entry-level factory worker. My mother worked hard from home to care for her four children. Christmas for us was lean on the gift-receiving end of things, and I envied others I knew who received a lot more gifts than I did.

Now, as an adult facing the end of my midlife years, my memories of Christmas in those early days are on what our family and church gave or did for others. Some of my most precious memories are about how our little church celebrated Christmas. We would pick an evening close to Christmas and go caroling to the shut-ins. They were so appreciative of our visit, and would often give us tear-filled hugs. Memories like these are the spirit of Christmas I remember.

First and foremost Christmas was about Christ’s birth. Gifts that were given were simple and were not the primary reason for the season. We took the message of Christ’s birth door to door in our singing and in simple gift of goodies. The Church Christmas program retold the story of that starry night that changed a world and brought forth the Savior!

There is nothing wrong with buying gifts and decorating a tree, but when the birthday celebration gets so out of control that we forget first and foremost that it is a birthday party, we may need to dial it back a bit. I think we often put on our version of a grand birthday party and forget to invite the guest of honor.

As you celebrate the season, take some time to celebrate Christ’s birth. As you go about buying gifts, don’t forget those in your church or in your neighborhood who are in care centers or who are shut-in at home. The angel appeared to the shepherds with a priceless gift in the message that the Messiah, the Savior of the world, has been born in Bethlehem! Now, let’s go have a wonderful birthday party and invite others to join in our celebration of the Guest of Honor, Christ the Lord!

Stan Means
Elder Source Senior Ministries