The changes in how we celebrate Christmas crept up on us. No warning. No chance to dodge the inevitable.
Christmas was so much easier — so much more fun — when we couldn’t afford it. What a delight it was to slip out and purchase that one special gift that my lady would never have splurged on for herself!
When our kids (and even our grandkids) were toddlers or pre-school brats, we could bury our Christmas tree in wrapped-up trinkets and toys without losing any sleep worrying about what they would like, or need.
Not so today. Have you tried buying presents for successful, young adults in this high-tech age? How can you possibly know what they want or need?
We still tingle to “Jingle Bells” (especially when Dan Hanson plays it). We delight in the holly and mistletoe. So nothing I write here is intended to say bah-humbug.
But if your house overflows with family, both young and old, during this season, and if your table is too small to seat all the kids and kin at Christmas dinner, then you may not know yet what it feels like when that jolly crowd is missing. And it will be someday. Possibly sooner than you expect.
Last December, for the first time since I was 4, my fingers did not install a single Christmas decoration at our house. My loving clan made sure the old man stayed off the ladder. Not a bad idea probably, but I missed what had always been a big part of the “fun” of Christmas.
My fancy new RAV4 runs way better than the old, hail-dented one I passed on to a grandson. But somehow I let the dealer hand me its title and keys before I realized that it won’t play a CD.
Since Christmas music is rationed on most radio stations anymore, I endured my first Christmas sans Mannheim Steamroller or the Mormon Tabernacle choir. Christmas without carols hardly seems like Christmas.
Christmas seems to have more updates than Windows10. Its changes are like any other changes. They can be annoying. All of them take some getting used to.
But one thing about Christmas never changes: its focus on that Bethlehem baby, the Creator in a crib, the Lord of heaven and earth now a helpless infant, the Word become flesh.
As long as Christmas points us to that Savior — to Emmanuel (God with us), none of the changes really matter. Not so long as we can sing, “O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.”
Gene Shelburne is minister of the Anna Street Church of Christ, 2310 Anna Street, Amarillo, Texas. Contact him at GeneShel@aol.com, or get his books and magazines at www.annastreetchurch.com. His column has run on the Faith page for three decades.