Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Christmas Post

It was Christmas Eve.

The rest of the family had gone to bed, but I was enraptured in my show, "In Search For".  Leonard Nimoy was hosting the episode, and they were hunting for Noah's Arc.  Very apropos for this day.  Like the wise men searching for Jesus.

I had moved the TV into the living room so I could admire the tree and presents.  Holly lay across the mantel above the fireplace.  A wreath had replaced the family portrait.  Small ceramic carolers were dispersed throughout the room. was snowing outside.

A very white Christmas, indeed.  Then I heard the thump on the roof.

I jumped up.  What should I do?  He would be down any moment, and here I was watching Spock talking about cedar wood.  I switched off the TV and ran to hide behind the breakfront.  There was a swoosh down the chimney, and I saw his boots land on the ashes below.  He leaned his capped head under the opening and stepped forth.  What magnificence!  What glamour!  The red hat sank down to his cheek, and his white beard filled his chest.  The long red coat brushed against his black boots.  A glimmer of light bounced against the glass spectacles.

He dropped the large bag to the carpet and gave a slight smile as he glanced around the room.  "How beautiful," he bellowed.  He walked over to the mantle and poked some of the red berries on the holly.  Then he turned his head towards the breakfront and beckoned me with a finger, "Come on out, Jim.  Spend a moment with me."  At first I was shocked.  Then I thought, "Why am I hiding?  I should be old enough to face him now."  I stepped out, though my knees were knocking.

He sat down in one of the wing-tipped chairs by the fireplace and reached for a cookie.  I took the opposite seat, but didn't move a muscle.  His presence was just too overpowering.

" you want to smoke?" I asked.  "I can disconnect the fire alarm if you want to use your pipe."

He laughed.  "No, that's alright.  It's really only something people write about.  Let's not wake up the others. I wanted to keep this just between the two of us."  He took a small drink from the cup of eggnog.  "Now that's something I do enjoy.  Thank the children for putting cinnamon on the top.  It always add that special touch."

We sat there in silence for a minute.  I was speechless.  What do you say to a man of his degree, someone who's been in the songs and laughter of every child across the world?  Obviously,you don't talk about smoking!  He must have sensed my discomfort, for he tilted his head and said,  "I wasn't originally dressed like this, you know.  My coat used to be forest green.  Due to the cold of Hanover, the Mrs. made me a hat, gloves and sash all out of red.  Everything about me was to represent someone else.  The cap was for the thorns, the gloves for the nails, and the sash..."

"...for the spear that pierced his side," I finished, my voice trembling a little.

I saw small dimples appear as he smiled.  He removed his gloves and held out his hands.  "Do you see?  No scars."

"I don't understand."

He leaned back into the chair.  "We saints were never meant to be bowed down to.  Christopher was meant to symbolize God's presence in our journeys.  Mildred symbolized God's providence over the poor.  But people exalted us higher than we were meant to be.  Our ultimate purpose was to point towards Him.  It's the world's habit to take the truth and turn it into something they can grasp.  Love.  Peace.  Joy.  Even myself.  The bag full of toys was to represent something much heavier.  Many change the message just so that others could feel included.  But many of those meanings have been changed as a result of selfishness.  And fear.  The world has difficulty with the love displayed on the cross because of the challenge that comes with it.  No one wants to admit how deep a divide their selfishness has created between themselves and the One who created them.  They don't see the loving hands which molded them when they were created.  Those hands know how to reveal truth without crushing. Hands that love in order to bring healing.  The way those hands were pieced for the life of all."

He stood up from the chair and walked over to the tree.  Reaching up, he touched Tessa's ornament.  We had created a new tradition of giving both children a new ornament each year.  Santa traced his finger along the small rails of her tiny sleigh and looked closely at finely woven scarf of the man sitting in front.

"That's mainly why the message of Christmas was changed.  People didn't want to be reminded of the true reason of his birth...and death.  Yes, the spirit of giving is important.  And joy is important.  And celebration, family, and commitment.  But the spirit of giving should never overshadow the giver Himself.  The One Who gave His son for our sins. That message was never intended to last just one night of the year...but forever."

I looked around the room.  At the presents and the holly.  The icicle lights hanging from the gutters outside.  And in all the decorations and wrappings, I seem to have misplaced the cross.  He reached inside his large bag and brought out a small, green-wrapped present.  "It is not the spirit of Christmas that should be known, but the Spirit of him who sits above the circle of the earth.  He gave you His Spirit for a purpose.  Not just to seal you for the day that you stand before Him, but to help you be a light to those who do not know the truth."  He handed me the package.  "Be sure to spread that message.  Be the light they need to see.  Speak the truth to those in darkness.  Above all, put on love."

The room became bright, and I shielded my eyes.  When I looked again, I was in bed with Annie lying beside me.  Sounds of laughter and the wrenching of paper rose from the floor below.  Annie opened her eyes and smiled.  "Merry Christmas," she whispered.  I smiled back and brushed a strand of hair away from her eyes.  "Merry Christmas."  We made our way downstairs to join the children.  I looked around at the room, and spotted the plate of cookies by the fireplace.  There were fewer than the night before.  Looking under the tree, my eyes caught sight of a small green-wrapped present.  I bent down and picked it up, inspecting the paper.  It was actually white, with the figure of a green-cloaked man on the front.  Fussing with the wrapping I opened it and read the cover of the small book.  The Gospel According to John.

I sat down and began to read the Christmas story.

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