As Christmas Eve approaches and sights and sounds of the holidays are all around, the memories of Christmases past once again visit my heart. I think we would agree that it is the dear ones we miss that make our memories.
How I remember my grandparents and Christmas was by no means about lavish gifting. It was about who they were the year around – their character, their integrity, their laughter, their love for their family that they displayed. Their lifestyle was to be generous the year around and sensitive to needs they saw around them, even unofficially adopting a neighbor girl from a very poor family. She lived with them for several years before graduating from high school.
Anyone who visited at the Eavey home would know the air of warmth and hospitality there. But Christmas Eve– well, it was special! Year in and year out we held to traditions that never grew old from decorating to the very specific ways we celebrated the evening together – traditions we were blessed to continue for many years. Christmas Eve day always seemed so long until we could finally arrive at my grandparents around 5:00.
For this special occasion we all dressed up – the men in ties and the ladies in party dresses. Many years my cousin Cindy and I had matching dresses. When I was old enough, I had the special job of lighting the candles throughout the house that my mom and grandmother had made. My grandmother had beautiful Christmas music playing in the background and her home was simply yet beautifully decorated using fresh pine boughs from the trees in their yard they had planted many years earlier.
The evening began with the adults having a champagne toast and we kids having 7-Up in our special glasses – all being recorded in the glare of my grandad’s movie camera lights. I’m so thankful for those precious blinding moments – no sound but you can see the love!
Then it was on to a sit-down turkey dinner on the red tablecloth, white dishes and my mom’s homemade crescent rolls. Of course there was a “kids” table decorated and set especially for us nearby. And we did feel special!
When the table was cleared, it was on to the gift exchange and more movie making as we all displayed our treasures. Desert was my mom’s Red Velvet Cake and the special ice cream “snowballs” and Christmas trees. When all the festivities were winding down, I watched Holiday Inn with my granddad as Bing Crosby sang, “White Christmas.” I always wished the evening didn’t have to end.
I have sweet Christmas memories with my own family as my dad always was having a good day on Christmas – like the year he (or Santa rather) left my new sled on the roof of the house. He took me outside early that morning saying it must have fallen out of Santa’s sleigh! Needless to say, I was a believer!
Later on Christmas Day was a celebration with family at my dad’s parents’ farm south of Harrisonville and more warm memories with cousins, aunts and uncles.
I remember my first Christmas after having made Jesus the Lord of my life. Celebrating the season had taken on a whole new meaning now knowing the Savior who had come into the world and not just knowing about Him.
As the years have gone by our celebrations have seen many changes. We value the memories of the past while embracing what is new as Tom and I began our own family traditions.
When we started CornerstoneChurch in 1984, we were so excited to start the tradition of having a Christmas Eve service to give our church family the opportunity to celebrate the most meaningful reason for the season. Not many churches were doing this back then outside of the more traditional denominational churches. This year we’ll be celebrating our 30th Christmas Eve service at Cornerstone.
The book of Isaiah was written 740 years before Christ but has seventeen chapters that contain specific prophetic references to the birth and life of Jesus. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Isaiah prophesied, “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
It is in Isaiah 9 that we read, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined……For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” *
The Spirit-Filled Life Bible explains that Jesus is the living Word, the infallible source of guidance, the inexhaustible wisdom, the Truth and the Way. He gives fatherly care and is everywhere present.
The fullness of His kingdom is yet to come, but it will come! The book of Isaiah describes the events of Jesus’ second coming and Revelation 1:7 says about that time that, “Every eye will see Him.” (Revelation 1:7) The books of Isaiah, Daniel and Revelation describe the second coming of Christ being much different from the quiet and inauspicious birth of the baby Jesus! At that time the whole world will recognize that He is truly King of Kings and Lord of Lords – this baby in the manger.
Memories of celebrating Christmases past are so precious to me and I can feel great sadness that my family is not able to enjoy our beautiful family with us. But there is so much more than memories – there is thankfulness, there is hope, there is the privilege of worshipping the Savior who banishes the darkness with His great light and will come again to erase every tear and every sickness -every wound man has ever experienced.
Whatever your memories, your traditions, your hopes for the future, I pray that each reader is blessed with the presence of Jesus this Christmas 2013!
Love to all,
*An interesting footnote about the book of Isaiah – when the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1947 by Bedouin shepherds in the Judean dessert, there were found not only portions of the entire Old Testament, but the entire book of Isaiah with estimates dating the scroll from 325 to 100 B.C. Thinking about the significance of this book, I don’t think it is any accident that it is the text that was found the most complete as there are 66 quotations from Isaiah in the New Testament with 348 allusions to the contents of Isaiah.