20 Dec 2008
The Christmas season is over, finally. The only aide memoire is the Christmas tree mutely standing in the corner of our living room. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly were sitting in the living room drinking our morning cup of coffee and silently staring at the ghost of Christmas recently passed.
Silence tiptoed down the hall. Almost out of nowhere, I heard a deep sigh from the only other occupant of the room. Then she said, "I'm glad Christmas is over."
I often agree with her and this was one of those delightful occasions. Is it me or does the Christmas season start earlier every year? Pretty soon, it will be a year-round occupation. As it stands now, by the time Christmas day arrives everybody is completely exhausted from all the holiday events not the least being shopping.
Then there are all those obligatory Christmas parties. During the holiday season, wherever two or three are gathered together you have a Christmas party.
I am thinking for my New Year's resolution this year that I will give up going to Christmas parties. However, if you do not go to some Christmas party you are soon labeled Mr. Scrooge, and they're not thinking the end of the book Mr. Scrooge. Why is it the only way we can celebrate something is to throw a party? If it was up to me, and it isn't, I would throw all parties overboard.
As I was deeply involved in this little brown bag study of mine my wife startled me with a question.
"Do you have any Christmas cheer left?"
Usually we are not reading the same book let alone on the same page. But this time was not one of those times. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I was not quite sure if I did have any Christmas cheer left but if I did, it was on the rather thin side.
For months, or so it seems, I have been encouraged by everybody around me to join the Christmas spirit. Christmas is the time to spread cheer. Right now, all I think I can spread is a little bit of Cheerios.
"Why are you smiling?" my wife said somewhat absentmindedly.
"I'm not smiling."
"Yes you are. I can see it from here."
Upon investigation, I discovered that I had a smile frozen on my face. I have been smiling so much that my face froze that way. My mother said this would happen to me and I never believed it. My problem now is, how do I unfreeze this icy smile from my face?
There is a time to smile. Then there is a time to put all of those smiles away and get on with life.
As I thought of my frozen smile and began to think of how much of my life is simply automatic without any reality to it? Am I just going through the motions? Or, is there something really behind that smile of mine?
"You know, I was just thinking," my wife said.
Of course, if it were not Christmas I would have answered her by saying, "With what?" There is a time to speak and then there is the time to sport a frozen smile.
"I was thinking how fast time goes around Christmas. It seems that just a day or so ago I was beginning the Christmas shopping. Now Christmas is over."
I knew exactly how she felt. The day after Christmas is a time to reflect on how fast the time has gone. There was once a time when I was very interested in what Christmas gifts I was going to receive.
Then I graduated to that phase when I was only interested in watching the children react to their Christmas presents on Christmas morning.
Now things are different. Now I look forward to the day after Christmas when I can catch my breath and listen intently to the sounds of silence. It has only been lately that I have learned to appreciate that harmonious sound, and it is all it is trumped up to be.
As much as I look forward to Christmas each year, the day after Christmas has a romantic charm all its own. Although, the Christmas cheer in my cup may be a little low, there is always one more sip. And, it is amazing how it refills itself in due time.
It must have been like that for Mary and Joseph that first Christmas. All the excitement leading up to that day and the day itself was beyond anything they could ever have imagined.
What with angels singing, shepherds worshiping and wise men bringing their gifts, it was an exciting time. Then the day after Christmas dawned bright and quiet. For them, as with all of us today, Christmas is one day of celebration and then life goes on.
It is after all the excitement dissipates that the real story of Christmas takes root. The Bible says, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." (Galatians 4:4-5 KJV).
The purpose of Christmas is not the excitement or the gifts or the parties but rather salvation. My cup of cheer may run low at times, but God is always faithful in filling it to overflowing.
Rev. James L. Snyder