Christmas was bleak when I was fourteen years old. My father had fallen off the roof our barn while trying to make a repair. He was severely injured. His hospital and home recovery rook months. As a coal mining family, we lived financially tight in the best of times. Although farming and gardening often got us over the hump. With no paycheck coming into our household for several months, I have no clue how my mother and father kept the lights burning.
My mother worked only briefly outside of the home and it wasn’t during this critical time.
Christmas came and my father was recuperating but was still on crutches. We had a Christmas tree but there weren’t any packages. I understood. I didn’t even think about Christmas gifts or packages or a Santa coming around. I knew it was not the best of times.
We did have food and the furnace was on and the fact that my dad was getting well gave us all a sense of optimism that things would eventually return to normal.
On Christmas Eve my mother surprised me by handing me a tiny package. “Thank you,” came from my lips, but I know I barely mumbled in disbelief. Ripping off the paper I beheld a watch. It was my one and only Christmas gift. It was a simple gift but it was thrilling to me at that time. I knew it came with sacrifice and love. I remember the blessing I felt.
A year later I would celebrate Christmas as a new Christian. I would even share in my church family’s Christmas program. Two other teenagers and I sang, “We three kings of orient are bearing gifts we’ve traveled so far.” We walked down the aisle of our church in bathrobes and weird looking crowns as we approached Mary, Joseph and the Christ child in the manger. It was all so simple but filled the greatest need of my heart. I remember that simple Christmas program. I remember the fellowship and love of the church. I remember the delight I felt in my Christian infancy. I remember that my dad was physically healed and doing well. I thought about how great life really was. I remember the blessings.
Today, I continue to count the blessings. The greatest blessing of all is God’s gift to us, his Son.
We celebrate his birthday once again. Hopefully, we won’t lose sight of what Christmas is about. We never really know just how God may work in our lives during this season. So often it’s in unexpected ways and in unexpected places and sometimes through unexpected people.
May we all be at peace this season of the year and try to look up higher than ourselves to God who has given us Christmas. Christmas is God’s extraordinary opportunity to do something special in our lives.
Dr. Glenn Mollette