Right headline…wrong picture…

December 20, 2021

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we do away with the image of Santa for Christmas, just that we move it into the background and put more emphasis on the real reason for the season.

We have allowed almost everything else about the Christian religion to be pushed out of our lives and to be replaced with secular things. Christmas itself has become more about decorations and presents and Santa than about the birth of Christ over 2,000 years ago that changed the world.

So use the headline, just change the picture in your mind. Let us never forget that and never stop believing.

Where did your traditions start?

December 3, 2021

While the graphic points to a quaint belief about traditions starting at home, many traditions start somewhere else, usually Mom’s house or maybe even Grandma’s house. I remember that the first 5-10 years of our married life my wife and I (and eventually our kids) traveled back “home” to our parents houses for Christmas.

We had our own home, of course, whether it was an apartment or a house, but “home” for Christmas always meant going back to our parents’ houses. This was not a casual day trip since we lived several states away most of that time. So it was a multi-day stay, usually at my wife’s parent’s house.

Fortunately, our parents lived fairly close to each other, so we could celebrate with both sets of parents on that one trip. Also fortunate was that they had two different sets of Christmas traditions, at least in terms of the timing of things. My wife’s parents always celebrated on Christmas Eve bye going to a Christmas Eve church service during which time Santa would magically come and put presents under the tree. The kids didn’t figure out until later why Grandpa was always late getting to the car to leave for church. My family celebrated on Christmas morning, which gave Santa the rest of the night to get from my wife’s family home to my folk’s house and put out the presents.

It really wasn’t until the kids were of Middle School age that we started celebrating Christmas at our own home and adopted the Christmas Eve tradition. Once the kids were out on their own, we still observed the Christmas Eve tradition, with a Christmas Eve church service, dinner at a restaurant or at our house and opening of presents. That makes for a peaceful and quiet Christmas morning.

Sadly, but inevitably, the Christmas Eve tradition has morphed from lots of excitement and noise as toys were unwrapped into the more subdued enjoyment of seeing how much money is in the cards. Now that all the grandchildren are in Middle or High School clothes and money have become the de jure gifts. This year, for the first time, one of our children is hosting the Christmas Eve get together, so the tradition shifts again, as it should. We’re looking forward to again being guests at the celebration.

What are your Christmas traditions and how and where did they start? How have they shifted over time? What memories will your children have of your holiday traditions?

A star shall be your guide back home…

December 24, 2018

“In everyone’s heart stirs a great homesickness.”  (Rabbi Seymour Siegel)

I saved that quote from a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog because I knew that I wanted to write about what it meant (at least to me).

Christmas is a time of great joy and celebration, but it is also a time of reflection and peace. It is a time when you can let your soul see the solution to the great homesicknessstar and wise men that may dwell there. For, when you imagine that star that guided the wise men to that manger in Bethlehem, you are seeing the star that will guide your soul back home, to God.

The great homesickness in Rabbi Siegel’s words is not about a physical place so much as it is about being back in the presence of God. The birth of a soul launches it on an adventure of wandering about in the physical world, some for a long time and some for a very short stay. No matter the length, during that time, that soul is away from God’s presence. The longing in our soul to get back home, to that relationship with God, grows and nags at us like a homesickness.

Some wander through life trying all sorts of different things to try to quiet that uneasy bored2feeling, that homesickness. Many believe that the accumulation of worldly power or wealth is the answer. Some turn to drugs or alcohol to try to quiet the sense of loss. Some may fall into mental illness trying to deal with this unknown and unrelenting feeling of loneliness and fear. Eventually, all souls realize that the only answer is to look to the sky, find the star that guided the wise men so long ago and follow it home…back to God.

The help that you need and desire to find your way back to God may be found as the wise men found it, in that manger in the little town of Bethlehem. Jesus was sent as our savior and guide to help us get back home to God. In John 14:6 He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So, the path back home to God is clear. Accept Jesus as your savior and guide and follow Him back home. Surrender yourself, pray, and look for His star this Christmas Eve. There need no longer be a great homesickness in your soul – His star shall be your guide back home.


May your soul once again know the presence of God. Follow the star and have a great Christmas!

Take the time to remember at Christmas…

December 17, 2018

This quote from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog started me thinking this morning about Christmases past – “Time moves in one direction, memory in another.”  (William Gibson)

In today’s hustle and bustle world, time seems to go by very fast. Holiday’s, even Christmas can speed up on us and, before we know it, they are in the past. As we decorate our tree each year we come upon two ornaments that take us back in time – ornaments that contain birth pictures of the first child of each of our children; our first grandchildren. Both are in High School now and that seems impossible. Time has flown by.

Holiday’s like Christmas do provide vivid frames of reference for our memories. They were the times each year when we all gathered together with family and friends (if we could) to celebrate and catch up with each other’s lives. Some families have a tradition of doing a Christmas family photo as their Christmas card and that allowed us to see the growth and maturing of everyone in the family. Some even accompany that with a shortChristmas past 1 story about what they family did during the last year – accomplishments, vacations and changes. We filed those stories away along with the images on the cards.

I suppose that you might have thought my headline today had to do with remembering the reason for the season – the birth of Christ – and to an extent it does; however, the real underlying thought is to take time to wander back through your memories of Christmases past. Remember those who are no longer with us. Christmas was usually a happy time and the memories that you may have of them will likely be happy ones. Remember that places where you’ve lived and the things that you’ve done at Christmas, wherever you were. Let the images of your family, from the births of your children, through many happy Christmas mornings flood back into your mind and bring a smile to your face.

If you are blessed with a long memory, float back in time to your childhood and the excitement and wonder that you felt as a child when Santa came to your house, ate the Christmas past 2cookies that you put out for him and left presents under the tree for you. How far back can you remember? Wasn’t that a pleasant experience? Hopefully, those memories are not like a long, heavy chain that you drag behind you; but, rather, like a gentle wisp of perfume floating in the air for you to enjoy.

So, take some time this Christmas to pause and allow yourself to be transported back in time to Christmases past with friends and relatives who may no longer be here but who will live forever in our hearts. As Thomas Campbell put it – “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Someday we will join them in other hearts and take our place in their Christmas memories. For now, let’s just enjoy our memories of all of the good people and things from Christmases past.

Have a great and memorable Holiday Season!