Does anyone feel like the true meaning of Christmas is a little bit lost?
Okay. Alot lost?
Christmas has become more of a retailer’s phenomenon than a religious holiday destined to remind us of why we’re here on this earth. While we make ourselves crazy shopping, we forget why Jesus was born, what He would grow up to do. We don’t think of salvation, compassion, or good will toward men.
If we’re not careful, the true meaning will be forever lost in the commercialism. That’s why we have to start with the youngest of our humanity. The future generations.
Years ago, my sister-in-law gave each of us a red bag filled with trinkets. They came with a story, too, which never fails to choke me up.
I’d like to share that story with you today.
Just a week before Christmas, I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the front room, and to my surprise, Santa Claus himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his fingers over his mouth so I would not cry out.
“What are you doing?” I started to ask, but the words lodged in my throat as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone…gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know.
He then answered with a simple statement of “teach the children”. I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question and with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood there bewildered, Santa said again, “Teach the children. Teach them the meaning of Christmas…the meanings that Christmas nowadays has forgotten.”
“Teach the children the star was the heavenly sign of promise long ages ago. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was a sign of the fulfillment of that promise. The countless shining stars at night, one for each man, now show the burning hope of all mankind.” Santa gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the bag a red Christmas tree ornament.
“Teach the children red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all the people by the Savior. Christ gave His life and shed His blood that every man might have God’s gift of Eternal Life. Red is deep, intense, vivid…it is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God.”
“Teach the children,” he said as he dislodged a small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantle and gently hung the red ornament on it. The deep green of the fir tree was a perfect background for the ornament. Here was the second color of Christmas.
“The pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round,” he said. “This depicts the everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All needles point Heavenward, symbols of man’s returning thoughts toward Heaven. The great green tree has been man’s best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him, made beauty for him.”
“Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring for a man to return to the fold. It means guidance and return. It further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord.” As the soft sound of the bell faded into the night, Santa drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny flame cast a glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in shadows slowly danced and weaved upon the walls.
“Teach the children,” whispered Santa, “that the candle shows man’s thanks for the star of long ago. Its small light is the mirror of starlight. At first candles were placed on the trees. They were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. The colored lights now take over in remembrance.”
Santa turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from underneath the tree. He pointed to the large bow and said, “A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied as men should be tied, all of us together, with the bonds of goodwill toward each other. Goodwill forever is the message of the bow.”
Santa slung his bag over his shoulder and began to reach for the candy cane placed high upon the tree. He unfastened it and reached out toward me with it.
“Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd’s crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane represents the helping hand we should show at Christmas time. The candy candy cane is the symbol that we are our brothers’ keepers.
As Santa looked about the room, a feeling of satisfaction shone in his face. He read wonderment in my eyes, and I am sure he sensed my admiration on this night.
He reached into his bag and brought forth a holly wreath. He placed it on the door and said, “Please teach the children the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love; it never ceases, stops, or ends. It is one continuous round of affection. The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It should remind us of all the things of Christmas.
Please teach the children.”
Do you try to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive at your house? How? What customs do you do–or used to do–that would help you and your children remember what the Season is truly about?
By the way–Santa’s story and his red bag of trinkets makes a wonderful treasured family heirloom. Feel free to make this story your gift to someone you love!
The Fillies will be taking a well-deserved break for a couple of weeks. I’ll be back the first Wednesday in January. Until then . . .
May you have the most joyful of Christmases filled with the light from God’s love!