Category Archives: Christmas

All I Want For Christmas Is Some Peace and Quiet

I was rummaging through some old papers and documents the other day when I ran across this little gem from an English Composition class.  This was an argumentative paper that reflected just the opposite of a topic that the writer strongly believed in; I chose Christmas.  Now here comes the disclaimer; I love everything about Christmas!  As you read through this narrative, you may notice that there are distinctive undertones of cynicism, yet between the recesses of the lines and words, there are significant truth bombs more relevant now than ever.  I hope you enjoy reading, “All I Want For Christmas is Some Peace and Quiet”!

Here it comes again.  I can see it in the stress-etched faces of passers-by, eyes fixated in terror.  Soon there will be no turning back for anyone; no credit card will be left untouched.  As Thanksgiving approaches, one has a sense of urgency and uneasiness, of unjustified dread.  Unjustified that is, until you are stretched out on your favorite sofa, channel surging one evening and you come across a commercial just bursting with holiday cheer.  It is only then that panic permeates your entire body, leaving you numb and listless.  Santa Claus is coming to town again, corrupting your children and robbing you blind in the process.

Not that there is anything wrong with the holiday season.  Peace, good will toward men is a very noble reason to celebrate Christmas, not to mention the Christ child’s birthday.  But given today’s emphasis on sensationalism and commercialism, the three wise men would do well to present gifts of Prozac, Valium, and Ritalin.  The distorted, commercialized ritual of Christmas begins with shopping for the unappreciative, followed by the search for the elusive perfect tree, and finally climaxes with the distribution of gifts to family members, immediately followed by the requests for the receipts of such sought after gifts.  So why DO we do this to ourselves?

Shopping has always been a fun, leisurely sport, enjoyed typically by those who actually have money to spend.  But when the Christmas season hits, it is every man, woman and shoplifter for him or her self.  Mothers and wives exchange their aprons and pot holders for pepper spray and baseball bats, anything that will give them an advantage over the other toy hoarding citizens that no doubt have already given one of their kidneys for the newest gizmo on the market.  One week before Christmas, everyone is so dazed and confused, they continue to buy that something special for individuals not even on their Christmas list.  All that matters now is that we have sufficient gifts for whomever may drop by; the mailman, the minister, the local orphanage—it is of no consequence; just be prepared.  As the shopping comes to an end, there is a slight pain in the pit of the stomach as you realize, “Man, I have to wrap up all of this crap!”  After all the gifts are beautifully wrapped, we try to stuff the mini mall of merchandise under a tree that only has a floor to tree clearance capable of accommodating a comic book.

Finding that special tree has always been an exercise in tolerance and ambition.  Some folks like to travel the hillsides, scanning the horizon for anything that still looks green, spruce like and big enough to withstand the weight of five tinsel laden boxes of holiday cheer.  Others prefer to wander through the fire retardant forests of Walmart, torn between the permanently snow laden pine or the ever famous, one piece, sit and trim.  Finding the right tree is the easy part; trimming the tree can be suicidal.  There is an unwritten rule that a string of Christmas lights will work as long as they are not attached to the tree.  Once applied, the Christmas tree lights have a mind of their own.  Rule number two deals with the application of decorative bulbs and garland.  No matter how many boxes of tinsel you have, it is just not quite enough.  The last rule applies to the tree itself.  There are always five times as many gifts as there is room under the tree to place them.  But why worry; the gifts will soon be given to family and friends anyway, right?

Family gatherings have always been the mainstay of the holidays.  One can almost feel the anxiety and irritation rising from the depths in anticipation of another “encounter”.  The location may vary, even the time frame may hover within two weeks of Christmas but the “encounter” remains a constant.  The gathering begins with the initial greeting at the door.  While still clinging to a favorite relative, you begin to scan the interior of the house for a “safe place”, a little bit of territory to call your own.  Next comes a little chitchat, a review of deaths from the previous year and a little catch up on the families’ aches and pains.  Any potential discussions relating to recent surgeries are reserved for the holiday meal.  While the adults are wasting away the hours bemusing themselves with nonsense, the children are circling around the gifts, perfecting their scotch tap removing skills, and preparing for the impending gift opening frenzy.  When the time arrives to open the gifts, the kids are oblivious to anything around them except for the shiny new toys unwrapped by other kids.  Their sense of greed overwhelms their sense of excitement and a squabble is sure to ensue.

The parents, on the other hand, have a more succinct sense of dread as everyone sits around in the circle of judgment and waits their turn.  One by one, the adults open their gifts as everyone else waits for the recipient’s reaction.  It is wise at this time to “psych out” the spectators with a broad smile and approving nod; sharing your real impressions of the gift can wait until the interesting drive home.

Again, that nagging thought crosses the mind, why DO we do this to ourselves.  It is time to start shopping for compliments for one another, not for the material trash we bestow upon our friends and family.  Wouldn’t it be better to embellish someone’s self-esteem than to spend hundreds of dollars prettying up a dead tree?  When it comes to family gatherings, I think that all of us would enjoy the Christmas holiday just a little more if we could just drop the dramatics and be ourselves.  Christmas is all about the Christ child, childlike fun and tradition, not unwarranted guilt and obligation.  So go ahead and deck the halls with boughs of holly; I’ll be the contented one in the corner, having a very merry Christmas of my very own.

The Christmas Box

Christmas box

The holidays are once again upon us and all of the old memories come flooding back as we place precious moments, cleverly disguised as Christmas ornaments, so very carefully on the twinkling light laden evergreen.  Some memories bring a smile to the face as you reflect back on a different time, perhaps a long forgotten place; the memory, once lying dormant, nestled deep in the recesses of the mind until a sight, smell or event once again revives the remembrance in vivid details.  Thus is the case when I see a candy orange slice or old fashioned hard candy.

I grew up in the sleepy town of Nelsonville Ohio, tucked in the Hocking Hills of Zaleski State forest.  My family went to the Church of the Nazarene on Adams Street where my spiritual foundation was birthed.  The church itself was a blonde block split level building with stairs both leading up to the sanctuary and downward to the Sunday school classrooms.  The windows in the sanctuary were all made of stained glass with names of those who donated to the building of the church, etched in the bottom of each window.  Back behind the pulpit and the choir loft was a very large, round stained glass window with what appeared to be curious and perhaps mischievous cherubim peeking out from and around puffy white and gray clouds. Those same angelic faces also gave many a child an impressive fright as they seemed to stare and follow your gaze if you dared to look too long.

Our family mostly went to Sunday school and seldom attended church unless there was a special speaker or possibly a visiting missionary.  The exception came during the Christmas season.  Every year, I would be involved in the children’s Christmas program in some way, whether it be a small bible verse to say or, as I got a little older, a speaking part in the Christmas pageant.  And every year I would fuss and fret over my insignificant part, not wanting to go up in front of “those people”; the congregation which looked to me as scary as the angels in the windows.

There was only one thing that kept my eye on getting through this hideous, inescapable ordeal; the Christmas box.  You see, on the Sunday before Christmas after the pageant was over and everyone was dismissed from the service, everyone received a treat box.  I know Mary and Joseph had the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh presented to them by the Magi but we had the treat box and piece of fruit, which seemed of equal value, given to us by the big guys, men from the church that seemed to tower over us kids and would many times have to stoop down to hand us our treasures.

Unable to curb our enthusiasm and curiosity, as soon as we clambered into the back of the car, my siblings and I removed the scotch tape that bound the box and carefully opened the lid, like a treasure hunter investigating his discovery.  Aside from the choice of a Red Delicious apple or navel orange, the box contained an assortment of incredible edibles that would sure to satisfy the taste buds for days to come. Coconut bonbons, peanut clusters, chocolate drops, walnuts, sugar coated orange slices would greet you as you opened the box as well as an assortment of old fashioned hard candies which made up the majority of the candied treasure chest.  My favorite was the raspberry hard candy that was filled with a juicy center and would burst in your mouth as you clamped down.

I would always choose the Red Delicious apple which I could quickly devour and toss the core.  My sister, Jennifer however, always chose the navel orange as we headed down the church steps and to the awaiting car.  Jennifer didn’t just eat the orange; it seemed she held a ceremony for it as she celebrated the citrus in her hands.  Jennifer would carefully lay out a paper towel and peel the orange rind, piece by piece until her orb resembled a raggedy softball.  Then she would separate the orange segments and isolate just one, where she would slowly and painstakingly remove all of the membrane until the orange nectar was exposed.  She would then stick half of the orange segment into her mouth, close her eyes and bite down, orange juice running out of her mouth and down her chin.  At times, there would be a soft moan of gratification and the process would repeat itself until the fruit was completely gone; it was as exciting to watch as watching paint dry…

As I look back on those times and reminisce, I have to smile and shake my head, for something as small and insignificant as a treat box in an adult’s mind, was so special and anticipated in a child’s.  But I also have to shake my head at us adults, who constantly need to be reminded of what the true meaning of Christmas actually is; that Hope was born on Christmas Day and the possibility now exists for us to live eternally with and for the One who gave His life so we may never truly die.  Like the child of my past, anxiously waiting for that treat box, we need to daily wait with great excitement and anticipation what blessings our Lord has for us as well as what service, task and/or ministry He needs for us to carry out.

As I entered adulthood with all the different responsibilities it entails, I was able to take part in ordering the contents and filling the treat boxes for that same local church.  I learned that we had far fewer chocolates in the box as opposed to hard candies because of cost and that it really was a financial struggle for the church to continue providing the fruit for the congregation.  But I also knew that everyone involved felt it was well worth sacrificing from another line item area to ensure everyone had a special treat in their hand.  And nothing else felt more rewarding at the time than bending down and handing a special treasure, the Christmas box, to a child who had just performed their heart out for a very gracious loving congregation…

Thought of the Day–12/25/17

Mother and Child

Thought of the Day—God’s love was shown and Hope was born for us on Christmas Day!  May peace reign in your lives as you celebrate the Christ child this Christmas…happy birthday, Jesus!

Thought of the Day–12/24/17

Ornament

Thought of the Day—As we enter the eve before Christmas, let us remember that it matters not what lies beneath the tree as much as what lies in our hearts.  A heart full of thankfulness for our one perfect gift–Jesus, a heart full of love for our family and friends and a heart full of joy in anticipation of being with those you love…that is what the Spirit of Christmas is all about…

Wilson Christmas Letter 2017

 

Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas from the Wilsons!!

A big “HEY” to our treasured family and friends!  We hope that your year has been full of fun filled moments and cherished memories.  Jenny already has our house in festive mode inside and out; she is perusing what kinds of incredible edibles she can whip up for this Christmas season.  Soon the dishes will be stacked high and the flour will be flying!  (Just kidding Jenny…honest!)

Our year began with Crystal changing our official titles of, “Grandma” and “Grandpa” to Gum Gum and Pops!!  Yep, that’s right; we have been “rebranded” and couldn’t be happier…I don’t know how she chose Pops, but Crystal saw Jenny chewing gum and I think it stuck…the name anyway…

Jenny and I started out the year with a nice vacation at Disney World; just two elder children wandering through the Magic Kingdom while wondering what Crystal will think of it all in a few years.  We went to Gatlinburg for a week in May and toured the burned out areas of the region, including our Tree Tops Resort that lost more than half of its’ buildings including our unit.  We were due for a vacation at Edisto Island in September but one of the many hurricanes this year preempted our stay until April of next year.

One of the family’s great tragedies this year was the loss of my sister, Jennifer on October 25th.  She has left such a chasm in our hearts that I fear healing will be both very slow and painful.  We will all miss her zest for life, her candid, “shoot from the hip” demeanor and her passionate love, for she loved fully and unconditionally.  She left this life like she lived it; on her terms.  Jennifer may not have been granted physical healing, but God granted her another ten plus months to experience true emotional and spiritual healing that had eternal ramifications.

Crystal will be three in January and has continued to steal our hearts.  Crystal is very intelligent and insightful; many times she will make a remark that makes us pause and question, “where did THAT come from?”  She is certainly a free Crystalspirit who can be very quiet and composed, but suddenly will break out in song or exclaim, “There’s a bear!”  Crystal is very much into play acting now and you never know who she is going to be.  One moment she might be Millie, her cousin or any member of her preschool class.  All I have to say is, Justin and Alison are in BIG trouble…

Under the category of pity poor me…I’m mourning the passing of my fifties…Yep, I’m sixty now…makes me a little nauseous when I hear that; I believe the thought makes my older siblings a little uncomfortable as well.  Jenny and Alison lessened the blow by taking me to Ocean Isle Beach, NC for a few days of “reality adjustments”.

As I bring our Christmas letter to a close, I am reminded of the fragility of life and how we so often take for granted what is truly a gift from God that keeps on giving; the magic of ordinary days.  The lyrical laughter of a child, perhaps the friendly banter with coworkers, or a much needed phone call from a friend or loved one are just simple reminders of love wrapped in the every day.  And while it might seem a little unrealistic to expect everyone to just drop what you’re doing and ponder on your life, all I’m asking is that you perhaps take the time to readjust your heart, even for a while, to one of thanksgiving.  Slow down a little, use all of your senses so you can truly experience all the blessings around you.  Kiss your spouse, hug your kids, make that call, patch that relationship, and forgive those silly grievances you may have with another, for we don’t know how much time we have with them or they with us.  And please remember one thing this Christmas season, peace on earth and good will towards men begins at your own front doorstep…

Much love to you and yours this Christmas and always!!

From Gum Gum, Pops and Izzy the dog

Steve and Jenny

Thought of the Day–12/18/17

Christmas gifts

Thought of the Day—It’s a week before Christmas. Are you still trying to find that perfect gift that no one wants or are you making final preparations for the perfect gift your whole family wants AND needs; your presence?  I’m not talking about your physical body being present and accounted for as much as you, in the moment, getting involved; go to that Christmas Eve service, engage with your kids and others, play those table games, arrange dinner around your needs not vice versa.  It’s not too late to surprise your family this Christmas; make it count!