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24 December 2009

The Reason for the Season

Three things I remember most about Christmas growing up are food, music, and family. I'd have to think really hard to remember a specific gift, but the memories of Christmas itself blend together as a time of happiness spent with those who meant the most to me. Grandmother and Granddaddy (Hall) were married on Christmas Eve, and for years we celebrated Christmas eve dinner at our house. Looking back at the few pictures that I have never fails to bring a smile ... the hairstyles, the clothes ... but what shines through? Family and love.

It was Christmas time when the Johnny Mathis album made its way out of the bottom of the stereo and onto the spindle. Mama started making candy: Martha Washington candy, peanut butter balls (also known as "buckeyes"), and peanut brittle. Sausage balls were rolled, baked and frozen. We always had a live tree, fragile glass ornaments, tinsel, and icicles. One year daddy had bought a model Goodyear blimp, and his message was "Merry Christmas Y'all!"

Shortly after lunchtime on Christmas eve, we started looking for family to arrive. Keep in mind that we usually didn't eat until probably 5 or 6 pm, but we were so anxious to see our aunts, uncles, and cousins that we wanted them to hurry up and get there! Uncle Jimmy usually brought bottle rockets and sparklers for the kids (of all ages). This dinner was an anniversary celebration, but a family celebration as well. It wasn't about the presents, but about the presence.

Sitting at my table today wrapping presents, I started thinking about Christmas and what it really meant to me. It's not about the gifts you receive as much as it is about spending time with those you love. Food has always played a big part in my life; one of our favorite gifts as kids was the box of cookies that came from daddy's mama. Grandma Abel made Johnny cake cookies with either pink or blue frosting, and sent us a box every year. We were SO excited when that box came! No "bought" cookie comes close to what those tasted like. I started thinking about those cookies today while I was wrapping those gifts, so much so that I picked up the phone and called Cheryl just to tell her that!

Tomorrow morning, I will wish my children Merry Christmas over the phone instead of in person, and that makes me a little bit sad. Rob and I will celebrate with our moms, and our friend Chance will be over to share Christmas day and dinner. What matters most this year? It isn't the gifts under the tree, it's the love and thought that went into them. It isn't the "holiday," it's the season. What is the reason? As Christians, we celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Because He was born and later died, we all have the chance at eternity with Him. As you unwrap those gifts and share those special moments, don't forget to thank the most important one of all!

God, I thank you for your many blessings that you have chosen to bestow on me throughout this year, and through the years of my life. Because you sent Jesus to us, we can share eternity with you. As we celebrate, may we never lose sight of what is most important: your love and grace! Thank you for the greatest gift of all!! They may try to take CHRIST out of Christmas, but they will never take CHRIST out of ME!!

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."~Luke 2:10-11 NIV

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