The Colors of Christmas
Christmas – the very word evokes a multitude of responses from different people. For some, it is disbelief that an entire year has already come and gone. Some families can’t wait to bring out the decorations; others dread the upcoming pace of busyness and expense. Far too often, Christmas is associated with traffic jams, perpetual one-day sales, checking Christmas card lists, decorating, overeating, and spending money no one has.
For many, it is a time to celebrate Santa, with no thought of the Christ of Christmas. For others, it is a time of worship and remembrance. Those away from home long to be there; those at home may long to be away. Though everyone wants a Christmas which looks like a Norman Rockwell painting of the Holy Family, far too often we feel as if we can identify more with the Clark Griswold family in Christmas Vacation.
Some remember Christmas as a time of disappointment and family feuds; for some of us – blessed beyond measure – it is a time of precious memories of the past, new traditions of the present, and wonderful hope for the future. I am one of those who is undeservedly blessed by the memories of the past and challenged to create precious memories for the future.
One of the sweetest memories to me is of the annual trips we would make to look at Christmas lights. The week before Christmas, we would all climb into our big, old, tank of a car and head out to the nicer areas of town to look at the beautiful Christmas decorations, the lovely trees in the open windows of the homes, and the shimmering lights hung across lawns and bushes. We children would ooh and aah at the beauty that made the darkness of a Texas night come ablaze with a spiritual sense of magic.
Our dad had grown up in a very poor family in New Orleans, Louisiana. They had never decorated a Christmas tree, gifts were limited to a piece of fruit and a few nuts, and worship, for them, was very formal and impersonal. Dad was well into being an adult before he met Jesus Christ as His personal Lord and Savior and came to understand the real reason for the season of Christmas. I am not sure who enjoyed Christmas more, our dad or us children. He would begin planning our yearly Christmas light-looking trips in November, buying small, inexpensive surprises for us in July, and talking to Mom about Christmas dinner next year during the meal this year.
Though he had never experienced the wonder of Christmas as a child, Dad made sure that each of us was taught the miracle of Christmas with every touch of celebration. The wonder of that Christmas more than 2000 years prior came alive to us as Dad used every moment as a teaching moment about that baby born in a manger in order to die on the cross of Calvary for me. He made sure we realized that Christmas is, indeed, about the gift. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). Though Dad was far from a formally trained educator, he truly knew the value of teachable moments and never missed one.
As we drove through the lovely areas of Dallas, Texas, Dad would begin to teach us the real meaning of Christmas. He would say, Children, when you look at the lovely red lights and crimson balls hanging on the trees, don’t ever forget that the baby on a manger grew to be the Savior on the Cross. He shed His precious blood for you so that you could spend eternity with Him. He taught us to love the deep, symbolic meaning of the beautiful scarlet of Christmas. He also gave us fresh eyes to see the beautiful greens of Christmas. Babies, he would say, every time you look at a Christmas tree or see a green ornament, you remember that the tree is an evergreen, reminding us that Christ died so that we could forever and never have to experience spiritual death.
When you see a white light, you remember that Jesus Christ was perfect but He became sin for you so that you could be forgiven. Gold should remind you that Jesus left all of the splendor of heaven behind to be born in a dirty animal manger because He loves you so much He didn’t want to spend eternity without you. Whenever you see silver icicles, lights, and balls, remember that He was sold for thirty pieces of silver to redeem you. Oh, and when you see purple decorations, it is a color of royalty, and you keep in mind that the sweet baby born in a manger is coming back. When He comes back, though, He is not coming back as a baby. He is coming back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and, when you see the beautiful color of blue, you look toward the eastern sky because, one of these days, that King is going to split the eastern sky and gather all of us to Him to live with Him forever.
So, though Mom and Dad have been with their King of Kings and Lord of Lords for nearly forty years now, I know of four families who pass down the memories of Christmases past to children and grandchildren of the present while teaching the blessed hope of the future. We can never look at the colors of Christmas without seeing through our Father’s eyes.
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift… the lovely Lord Jesus. (2 Corinthians 9:15).
© 2010 Gerry Sisk