It wasn’t her age, nor her frailty, but it was very likely her last Christmas. Every year it had been the joys of the season, the uplifting music, the smiles and the twinkling eyes. Every year the remembrance of who we honor and why we give gifts at all, were important elements of those special days. Snowflakes falling with a brisk chilly breeze always brought out the heavy coats and dry socks in boots. There were cookies and candies, aromas and delights. Hot chocolate of the most exquisite texture warmed from the lips to the belly. Kindness and joy-filled greetings were found on every corner. Even the persistently grumpy Scrooges were softened by the goodwill of the times. Hers was a remembrance of kindness in the heart and goodwill toward men. Abundance shared and caroling voices safely drowned out the clamoring for selfish self-promotion. At least once a year it could be obvious that Christ reigned supreme. Even if it was only as a little child.
Yet it was not always so blissful for everyone. In some years the Christmas season had strained to even be deemed a Joy to the world. The continually growing crass retail XMAS experience was definitely not her favorite. That certainly would not be missed nor remembered as she had her last Christmas.
In those years searching for just the right gifts seemed so burdensome. Was it necessary, expected, or maybe even done out of a sense of duty? Did selfish pride mandate her participation? Sometimes she bore the heavy feeling of shame at the low cost her budget demanded. It was such a dreaded game to determine if it would be a needed or appreciated gift. Even the music had changed over the years and seemed to focus much more on the shopping experience instead of the Christ child. It was deemed a good Christmas only if the bargains were found. It seemed not to matter if God’s gift was received or even acknowledged.
And if it is indeed to be her last Christmas, was she able to choose whether it was an XMAS or a Christmas? Was the placement of the tree with its ornaments and glittering decorations more important than the placement of the Nativity scene? Maybe a friend might suggest there is just too much religious hoopla attached to this end of the year celebration. This all sounds pretty cynical and pretty sad to a church filled with believers on Christmas eve. Yet this is where the choice is made.
This is where the truth of the impact is made known. Jesus Christ, the babe in the manger, the sacrificed lamb of God, the risen Lord of all, has either claimed you as His slave unto salvation or not.
Either you have, by the influence and wooing of the Holy Spirit, become a child of God through repentance and confession or you are worried about the placement of the tree with its broad assortment of brilliantly wrapped expensive gifts.
Because it is normal to worry about those things which are most important to you. You are built that way by the God who created you. The shepherds who first worshipped him knew nothing of bright colored electric lights and trees and red coated, white bearded, sleigh riding, reindeer driving distractions. It is incredulous to imagine that some who might this year be enjoying their last Christmas, might never have gotten a single one of them right.
Freedom is a wonderful gift. You and I are free to choose the path we walk in day by day. However, we are not free to choose our first day to breathe the breath of life, nor our last. Contentment is a wonderful gift. While the ways of the world honor and glorify the drive and passion of those who must do more and have more, they know little of contentment. Knowing whose you are and where you are going is a wonderful gift. It is a gift packaged in the knowledge of the love of our creator and sealed by the promise covered in His blood. It is a gift that is opened and enjoyed after the last Christmas.
It wasn’t her age, nor her frailty, but it was very likely her last Christmas. She wondered what the unwrapping of the gift she had received would be like. She wondered as a little child wonders at the stars in the sky and the love of their mother. It is with great joy that she escapes the cruel bonds of this life and enters into the Joy of her Lord. She no longer seeks the gift. For she is the gift He has sought. And there is no need for the remembrance of Christmas. She has known her last Christmas and He is the eternal Christ.