What Christmas Means to Me
Growing up as an American military kid in Europe, one of my favorite times of the year was celebrating Christmas in Germany and getting to hear tales about St. Nicholas. As a child, Christmas was always an exciting time of year, mostly because of the traditions associated with it.
While I was in Germany, my family decorated our tree in the traditional way, with real candles on the branches, and we would gather around that tree to sing "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night") all in German. We feasted on marzipan, chocolate, and the customary cookies of Christmas, Lebkuchen.
As I became an adult, I still loved Christmas - the lights, the tree, the traditions, but there always seemed to be an accompanying let-down. Christmas was so exciting to prepare for and to experience, and then it was over. The decorations came down, and there were just the long days of winter to endure until spring. Each year, I would imagine that it would be different. This time I would get the perfect present that would make me happy. This year I would prepare the perfect Christmas to make my family happy. It never seemed to happen.
It wasn't until I was 32 years old that I really began to understand the true meaning of Christmas. I hadn't realized that I had already been given the perfect Christmas present. God had sent His son Jesus to come to Earth to pay the penalty for my sins. Christmas was the prelude to Easter, when Jesus would die on the cross to exchange His life for mine. God was offering me eternal life if I would just admit my need and accept this gift.
Like any Christmas present, it was given in love, but didn't truly become mine until I reached out and accepted it. After thinking about these things, and wrestling with the idea of letting Jesus guide and control my life, I made a personal decision to accept Jesus' gift of life and give Him the offering of my life to use as He saw fit.
The first Christmas that I experienced after recieving Jesus into my life was the first Christmas that the joy of the season lasted through all of those winter months. In fact, that joy is still in my life, many years later! As a result of my choice to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I have experienced freedom from guilt, the liberty of being completely forgiven, and the added blessing of discovering a Heavenly Father that really understands and cares about my deepest needs.
These gifts were far beyond what I had ever hoped for as a child. Over the years I have received many other gifts from God, including my husband of 32 years, a successful business, and many wonderful friends.
Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it captures the heart of men and women through the Gospel of Jesus Christ!