One of my fondest childhood memories is of Christmas holidays. Every year we celebrated Christmas at my grandparents’ house in a small Romanian village. I always looked forward to riding the train in the winter and looking at the snow-covered trees running by and anticipating my grandpa waiting for me at the train station with the sleigh that he had made himself. My grandma was baking sweet cheese buns and walnut loaves and the air was filled with the scents of nutmeg and mulled cider. Maybe it’s odd but I never think of presents I gave or even received. My point is this: Christmas was not about getting stuff. My memories are strictly redolent of my grandma’s house, the food, and our family laughing and trying to figure out where everyone was going to sleep. I feel extremely blessed to have experienced Christmas in such heart-warming ways, but lately I realized that a lot of people dread the Christmas season….
It seems to me that some people fall in the category of experiencing Christmas full of cheer, and good will, expectant of gift giving and receiving, caught up in the euphoria of inexplicable of joy, anticipating family togetherness, laughter and the flurry of Christmas morning hugs and kisses and bright colored wrapping paper scattered about. On the other hand, and the most prevalent category around the world, are the lonely, and the less merry… Yesterday, as I was grocery shopping I ran into a worker at a certain store. I asked if he was excited about Christmas to which he replied: “ Not at all. I hate this time of year. I wish I could go to sleep and wake up in the new year so I don’t have to feel the pain of Christmas.” “Why”, I asked,” This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.” He explained, “ Not for me… I haven’t seen my mom in a long time and my father and I don’t speak. My roommate is going out of town so I will be all alone on Christmas..” I was overwhelmed with sadness hearing his story so I quickly asked if he wanted to come with us to church for Christmas Eve service. His response pierced my heart further still: ” I don’t much feel like going to church…if you know what I mean..” What could he mean other that his own heart was guarded and hardened by his apparent struggles, and possibly felt forgotten and forsaken in his deep pain. Celebrating anything was the last thing on his mind. I watched him walk away knowing that he dreads people’s exchange of ” Merry Christmas”, that being a constant reminder of his desolate situation. All of a sudden the tinsel and the Christmas trees faded away into the less important realm, revealing great summits of compassion for all the lonely people, the single parents whose spouse possibly passed away at Christmas, the ones who lost other loved ones, the unwanted, the elderly, the forgotten, the incarcerated, the homeless, all the hurting people that live in despair not knowing the love of God and the promise of eternal life. John 3:16 says that “ God so loved the world that he gave his only son…”, so what can I give to these people? I can’t fix their problems for them, and I can’t fabricate special Christmases for them, but what I can do is try to improve their present and hopefully their future. I will invite this young, lonely man to our house for Christmas dinner, I can visit nursing homes with my family, make homemade cards for the elderly, surprise a needy family with gifts for their children. There is nothing wrong with creating wonderful Christmas memories with our families, but most people around the world don’t experience houses that smell like sweet cider, and fresh baked goodies, or sleigh bells and laughter, and hugs and kisses…There is nothing worse than living in bleak, dismal loneliness and emptiness, not knowing the love of God and the promise of eternal life. God gave us Jesus so we need to give the gift of Jesus to others. So no matter what we do before Christmas, during Christmas, or after Christmas, it must reflect the love of Christ that will assure others that Jesus was born to save ALL of us and that ” none of us should perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
By Roxana Phillip-Hackett
Roxana is a wife of one, mother of two, who loves to share her faith with sincerity and honesty from her home in Hendersonville Tennessee.