Mentor's Moments

Joy despite the Ghost of Christmas Past

If you read “Martha Stewart is Not Coming to My House this Thanksgiving,” underlying the humor is the valid point that we need to put the accent on the right syllable for our families. More important than a banquet spread, more memorable than the most expensive of toys, more to be treasured than all the festivity are the memories we make at holiday seasons.

My girls asked if I would do their favorite thing for Christmas for their kids this year. It wasn’t fancy pies or cakes. It wasn’t a fabulous gift. We used to have scavenger hunts. I would write a clue, which led to another clue, and another, until at the end of the trail a simple treasure was under the “X.” We didn’t have much money during their Papa’s struggling residency days, but we had laughter and fun, and a bit of creativity. They recalled running up and down Grandma’s apartment one year and through several houses as they grew up. They couldn’t remember a single “treasure,” (I remember one was a much-needed warm winter coat for Tom. It was blue, and he put it on and wore it in the house!) But they remembered the laughter and excitement. What was “getting by” for Mama and Papa was a Memory to share with the next generation. I‘m so grateful it was a happy memory and not the insecurity of deprivation, the resentment of too little.

For those of us who grew up with alcoholics, holidays can be seasons of depression as we work through unpleasant memories. For those who grew up in poverty, Christmas can be a time of loneliness as we feel our wounded inner child looking through the store windows at the gifts we could not buy our loved ones, nor dream of having for ourselves. For those of us who grew up in broken homes, holidays are tugs of war between warring families, each wanting the child with them. Sometimes, to give our children the holiday they can remember with warm memories, we need to first heal ourselves, lest the ghosts of Christmas Past steal the joy of our present.

Thank God we have a Redeemer, Who makes all things new. Thank God that the One Who made all things invaded our dark and fallen planet to bring us into the Light of His Glory. Look to Him, Who is able to do exceeding abundantly, find peace for your own soul, then curl up beneath the soft lights of the tree and sing Christmas carols, or read Max Lucado’s “The Little Christmas Lamb.”

I learned to love Christmas when the Love of Christmas invaded my life. May He be the center of your season this year. Don’t get over-tired, don’t worry about too many bulbs on the lower branches, don’t fuss over fancy dinners, just love, laugh, and have a blessed Christmas!