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Seasons of Christmas

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Best Wishes! Season’s Greetings!


A request arrived a week ago. “Write a Christmas post about what Christmas means to you. Favorite

traditions, foods, memories, etc.”


I hesitated. If I described how I actually felt about Christmas, folks would be astounded at my lack of

Christmas spirit.


I have no Christmas tree, and I’m the house on the block with nary a Christmas light. Oh yes, there are

lights on in my house. It’s well lit on the inside. I like light. I dislike coming home to an empty, dark

house. That’s why every light in the kitchen and living room is on to welcome me home in the darkness.

And I have had a succession of trees over the years, in different seasons of Christmas.


My devotions this morning included those familiar words from Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for

everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven.”


I finally grasped why the Christmas spirit has been eluding me! There are seasons of Christmas in a

lifetime.


I was born into a strict Conservative Mennonite home, blessed with the best parents and siblings one

could ever hope for. However, our strict upbringing did not allow for Christmas trees or lights.

Undeterred, we created our own traditions. We colored strips of paper, cut them out, and linked them

together to make decorations. Gifts were limited to one or two gifts each, usually coloring books or

clothes. In the absence of a tree, they were placed beneath a piece of furniture to await opening day.

Dad always purchased a large block of chocolate that us kids nibbled at for weeks. We had no radio, but

on Christmas Eve, Dad would bring a radio home from work, and we listened to Christmas music. Often

times, a trip to my grandmother’s Amish household followed. That was the season of childhood

Christmases. Warm memories of those years still flood my soul.


The second season of Christmas in my life included Christmas trees. That season began with marriage

and children. Christmas trees were brightly lit and beautifully decorated. The trees were surrounded

with gifts for young children, and the living room was filled with the Christmas spirit.


One year it was also filled with the aroma of pine. I finally had convinced my wife that a real, living tree

would be the way to go. She thought fallen needles would be more trouble than the tree was worth. But

one day she came home from grocery shopping to find me in the living room with the chain saw, cutting

off the base of the tree. It was a bit bent and…. Yes, there was pine tar, bark, and trunk residue sprayed

everywhere. I didn’t try that again.


Every Christmas Eve, our family would attend a Christmas Eve program at our church. Following that, we stopped at my Amish grandmother’s house for a late-evening visit. There were drives through the

community, enjoying the light displays.


We brought Christmas and our own traditions to our children, including Christmas at Grandma’s house,

with gifts piled high around a tree. Good food, games, laughter, children and cousins and brothers and

sisters and in-laws imbibing the joy of Christmas. Year after year, our traditions continued.


That season of Christmas lasted for more than two decades, enough years to believe it would never end.

But it did. The season of Christmas as a parent slipped away.


“A time to be born and a time to die.”


And then, the music stops, and the Christmas lights in your soul flicker, dim, and die.


Grandpa and Grandma passed away. No more of those amazing meals. Family gatherings, games played,

laughter, fun, gone with grandparents.


However, we still had each other.


But then we didn’t.


A season of sadness, of aloneness arrives. The season of Christmas alone. Sure, family and friends reach

out. Their Christmas wishes are sincere. However, many of them have no idea how alone one can be in a

crowd.


I’ve had a few less-than-joyous Christmas trees during this season. Some were purchased at Goodwill

stores for $5. Easily appearing in my living room for a few days, then tossed. I have strung lights on some

house plants as well. My most recent was an antique tinsel tree purchased at an antique store. It had

the old revolving multicolored lights that were the rage many years ago. I was purchasing nostalgia,

memories from Christmas seasons past. I gave it away. It was devoid of spirit.


Christmas still comes and goes, but this season of Christmases is a season like none of the others. Now,

the excitement is in the grandchildren’s eyes. They are creating their own traditions, making memories,

in their own season of Christmas.


Whoever you are, wherever you are, you will experience similar seasons of Christmas in your lifetime.

Which season are you in right now?


If your Christmas season is joyous, never take it for granted. If your children are young, give them the

best Christmas memories ever. Make very sure they know the real reason there is a Christmas Day. And

don’t stop with the meaning of Jesus’ birth—teach them the meaning of His resurrection. You see, the

hope is in the resurrection. The realization I will see Jesus someday is what gives me joy. All those

people who gave me Christmas joy over the seasons of Christmas will be gathered there. Yes, I look

forward to being there in Heaven with those loved ones.


However, I’m still the eternal optimist.


I can envision one more season of Christmas. I see a day, years from now, when I’m an old man (well,

kind of am already) looking back on the last chapter of life, the last season of Christmas. I don’t know if

there’ll be a tree or not. It won’t matter. I’ll be surrounded by love God has blessed me with again. And

joy regained!


Jude 1:2 Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.


Merry Christmas.


Paul Stutzman

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