A new perspective on Christmas

Photo Credit: Amanda Sullivan

My desire to play Christmas music prior to Thanksgiving increased exponentially the past few weeks since the Lynchburg weather has turned almost frigidly cold — at least according to my Texas body temperature that balks at anything cooler than about 80 degrees.  Although classes had yet to break for Thanksgiving, I still played my Christmas music in the office much to the chagrin of Champion office mates — my roommate made a strict “No Christmas music before Thanksgiving” rule when we signed the lease. She knows me well.

Well, now it is Thanksgiving break, and I am visiting my home in Texas — where the temperature has been hovering near a beautiful 80 degrees for most of the week. For as long as I can remember, the Christmas season has been lavishly celebrated in my family, so since it is Thanksgiving, and my parents have reached the stage in their lives where more of their kids live outside their house than in, the Christmas planning begins even earlier.

Many times when I tell my friends about my family’s mild obsession with the Christmas season, I generally find myself defending our actions. Most of the time, my revelation elicits accusations of commercialism, meaning I am left saying something similar to, “For my family, it’s less about buying into some commercialistic scheme and more about family and celebrating the birth of Christ.” The sentiment is very true. Without Christ and my family, Christmas would not hold much value for me.

Although Christmas is a special time of year for me and my family, the season has not always been easy or even fun. These past three or four years have been filled with a few growing pains for my family and me as my dad lost his job — a paycheck that put him in the top tax bracket — my freshmen year of college. My parents opened their own business only to be forced to declare bankruptcy on the endeavor two years later, washing their dreams, house and limited financial stability down the drain. For the next two years, my mom worked as a waitress at a local Mexican restaurant while my dad continued to search for work, and we lost our house. The only jobs that my dad could find was a waiter for a local Chili’s restaurant and a store manager position at a local Little Caesar’s Pizza. Essentially, my dad went from running a multi-billion dollar recycling company to making pizzas for a living.

I remember the first Christmas that was especially awful. I remember being afraid that I would wake up on Christmas morning and that the lights or water would not turn on. But they did. That Christmas was even more humbling because for the first time in my parents’ marriage, they could not afford one single Christmas gift or even dinner. Don’t think about that last statement from commercial point of view, rather think of it as a mom and dad that are financially unable to provide some basic necessities — I’m not talking about the presents, here.

That Christmas my grandparents gave my parents enough money to buy food, ensure the utilities stayed on and make sure there were a few gifts for us kids under the tree. Christmas that year was particularly humbling, as I had always maintained that the season wasn’t about lights, ribbons or bows. However, that Christmas season, I was forced to believe it.  Although my family did not celebrate Christmas in our normally lavish fashion, we were still very blessed. The Christmas season in my house has always been very family-oriented, and we always set time apart to give back to the local community. I just never thought my family would be on the receiving end of some of those efforts.

I understood the importance of serving others on a very real level that Christmas. My grandparents’ assistance and support allowed me to not only hear about their walk with Christ, but to experience it. My question to you is: In what ways are people able to see Christ’s love through this Christmas season? After all, God first served us when he sent his son to earth. Shouldn’t we exhibit some of that same love to those around  especially at Christmas time.

Showing love through service is not a wild concept that came from my head, rather it is a command from Christ Jesus:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” the Bible reads in John 13:34-35.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *