The One True Gift

The Most Recognizable Christmas Decoration is of course the Nativity Scene itself. When I was a kid it was just as common as the Snowman and Santa Claus are today. Every village square and every church yard displayed a large manger scene with livestock, wise men, shepherds and angels. Almost every home had a rustic miniature nativity that seemed to be either on the coffee table or the large stereo cabinet in the living room.

The secular world certainly has lots of questions about where Jesus was born, how he was born and they’re quick to point out that December 25th was not his real birthday. Yeah, we knew that already. And it doesn’t matter. My faith is not in the date. My faith is not in how many wise men actually showed up. It doesn’t matter if he was born in a manger or under a tree and then brought into the manger later. My faith is in the identity of the child who was given out of the love of my creator for all of mankind. My salvation is in the fact that Jesus was both God and Man and that his innocent blood would be shed thirty three years later to bring reconciliation between us and father God. It’s just that simple. And, if I can just hold on to the truth of why we celebrate and who we celebrate then it truly is Christmas every day.

Normally I end my blog post by pitching my business and instructions on how to contact me or follow my page but tonight I wanted to take a break and just give you something from the heart. Tonight’s image is untitled and not for sale. It’s simply a confession of my faith. That though Jesus Christ I was reconciled unto God almighty. There’s a Christmas gift for ya. From reconciliation to redemption and the things God has in store for the believer beyond this broken world.

Merry Christmas friends and may God bless us every one.

Tomorrow night there will be no post. I’m taking Christmas Day off to spend time with family. My next post will be on December 26th.

About That Ivy On Your Antique Decorations

You really couldn’t find a better symbol of resilience than English Ivy. Not only is it evergreen it seems to thrive wherever it puts down roots. I had always noticed that in some older Christmas decorations that English Ivy seemed to be present but I really didn’t know why. Here in the Southern United States holly and Mistletoe are staples of Christmas decor. So much so that unless you are an active observer you might mistake the Ivy for stylized holly. But it’s not. As I started to dig a little deeper into Ivy as a Christmas symbol I learned that it’s use peaked somewhere around the year 1200 Anno Domini. Like all Christmas symbols it has roots in paganism but then if people can be converted then why not symbolism? But I digress. The Christian symbolism of Ivy at Christmas is that of the believer. Like the Ivy the believer thrives wherever he/she is planted. Like the Ivy the believer is evergreen in having eternal life. And like the Ivy the believer must have support. English Ivy must have a wall or something to hold it up in order to reach the heavens. And the believer must lean on Christ throughout his/her life.

The next time you are pulling out those antique Christmas decorations look closely at the filigree. For years what I thought was holly turned out to be English Ivy.

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The Orange Story

One of Christmas traditions that my family practices is peppermint candy and oranges.  Every year my grandfather would buy a crate of oranges and bag them up with peppermint candy to hand out to friends and family. This was the thing he looked the most forward to every year. The story behind this gifting tradition goes back to the Great Depression.  He came from a large family and during those times almost nothing was bought from the store. They played with hand carved wooden toys. They wore handmade clothes.  The food was raised and harvested at home.  An exotic fruit like the orange was a luxury.  But his father would splurge at Christmas and there was enough money for each child to have one orange and a large piece of peppermint candy.  One year one of his sisters had just finished peeling her orange and dropped it into the dirt. My grandfather couldn’t allow her to go without Christmas and gave her his orange.  The simple act of sacrifice became an expression of love every year.  The true meaning of Christmas is sacrificial love.  The original gift that was given was the child in manger who grew up to hang on a cross and restore to us that which was lost. 

    Remembering You 

    I remembered you today.  I  thought about the long walks to check the fences and care for the animals.  I remembered the stories of your brothers and sisters.  The stories that you brought home from Europe.  I remembered the gentle wisdom and the laughter.  I remember the work we shared and the adventures we had. I remember us. I miss my best friend.  I  love you.  Merry Christmas paw paw.  

    Christmas is forever 

    Everyone is a child at Christmas.  Every year we all revert back to the days of excitement and wonder. Our journey in childhood is aided by colors and lights and smells of the Christmas season.  I remember when one of the special parts of Christmas was the yearly tradition of handmade decorations.  The process of transformation from everyday home into a winner wonderland had a personal touch.  The tree topper was made from a recycled cereal box that was either painted or simply covered with tinfoil (and later aluminum foil). The ornaments on the tree was sometimes hand carved from thin scraps of wood. Construction paper chains served as garland. One of my childhood friends would go out in the woods and collect acorns in the Fall and paint them for use as ornaments. Whatever the process and materials used it was the bonding of friends and family that made the memory.  Today we have projectors and lasers and inflatable Santas that are produced on an assembly line (probably by robots soon) and then sold in the stores.  Our modern plug and play Christmas provides us with a great deal of splendor but how much spirit?  Time is of great value in our busy lives.  The “Christmas Rush” is on and in a lot of lives the pressures of earning a living shows no mercy.  Time is the most valuable resource we have.  It’s a resource that we can possess but not own.  However,  I have learned that it is in fact entirely possible to freeze time.  Not through some contrivance of technology or secret of the ancient Magi but through the simple act of bonding with friends and family.  This year I encourage you to incorporate some homemade Christmas in with the technological splendor.  The time you spend with your loved ones is the greatest gift you can give.