Christmas Remembrances

December 25, 2016
by Martin Wiles

Isaiah 9:6 – For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NLT)

As I grow older, I yearn for the Christmases of my childhood.

Being the first grandchild in the family meant a great deal of spoiling. Though I don't remember those years, pictures relay the joy and giving that took place. Prior to my paternal grandmother's retirement, she bought presents with abandonment and worked to make Christmas a special day for everyone — especially the grandchildren. Presents waist-high lay under and around the tree, waiting for eager little hands to open them.

Christmas at my maternal grandparents' house was practical. They were more into the fellowship — telling stories, hunting, cooking, and eating — than the giving of presents. One or two gifts was all I could expect.

When my giving grandmother retired and could no longer afford to buy mounds of presents, mom took over the tradition and continued it until she retired. Now, my wife tries her best to keep the abundant giving alive. But things have changed.

My early Christmases were about togetherness. The togetherness lasted for days. They weren't pop-in visits from children and grandchildren. We hung around, talked, laughed, hunted, and watched ball games together. Never did I hear, "We can be there at ___, but we have to leave by ___."

In the midst of my childhood Christmases, we always remembered the reason that we were celebrating: to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. He overshadowed the presents rather than the other way around, much like the first Christmas the prophet of old foretold. It, too, was all about a birth — and it was simple.

We said blessings at Christmas meals, and just as at Thanksgiving, we remembered that God was responsible for all that we had and enjoyed.

My childhood Christmases were also times of joy — and not just over presents. We were glad to see each other, to celebrate Christ's birth, to eat a meal together, and just to enjoy one another's company.

Divorces and remarriages have now changed the structure of our immediate and extended family, multiplying in-laws and grandparents and dividing our time into tiny increments that temper the joy of being together. Though some of the things from my early Christmases are missing, I still enjoy the Christmas season. Though life is always changing, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8 NLT)

Let's not allow the changing seasons of our lives to steal the real meaning of Christmas. Let us remember the birth of the Saviour, and celebrate it with family and friends.

Prayer: Father, we celebrate the birth of Your Son — and giving — as the real meanings of the Christmas season. Amen.

About the author:

Martin Wiles <mandmwiles@gmail.com>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Merry Christmas and Amen!


    Merry Christmas to you and your family, Martin and thanks for sharing your memories.


    Very well said Martin. I share many of the sentiments you write about. Merry Christmas to you and your family.


    I enjoyed your devotional. Many memories of those who have passed. Will spend today and tomorrow with family and will attend church this morning.


    Loved your devotional! It caused me to recall some very fond memories of Christmases with my paternal grandmother — also a child of God.
    Thank you and blessings.


    Martin, thank you for sharing your Christmas memories. I can relate to your experience as much has changed over the years. Praise God we can count on Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Merry Christmas! God Bless.


    Many thanks for your Christmas message. It is so true about family changes. However a dear friend gave me a wall plaque years ago with the verse you quoted from Hebrews. Yes indeed, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and tomorrow and that is very special to us all. Blessings.


    I am always amazed how much my thoughts resonate with yours Martin. I was just saying how different our Christmases are today than when we were children. I miss the awesome moments of hearing my dad read the Christmas story, of singing Happy Birthday to Jesus as we joined hands around the table. How blessed we were when life seemed so simple. I summarize it with these lines, “Christmas meant Jesus was born in a manger. Christmas meant Jesus came to be the Saviour of men. Christmas was loving and giving and sharing. Christmas meant Jesus was coming again.”
    Bless you.


    Praying that your Christmas celebration was joyous, filled with family and friends. Thanks for sharing this devotional. Blessings.


    Hi Martin,
    I read your devotional this morning and although we do not have the early childhood traditions to call on in the Netherlands St. Nicholas came on December 5th and Christmas was strictly for celebrating/remembering the birth of Christ.
    When our parents emigrated to Canada they were too poor to buy many (any) presents and our Christmas celebrations were mostly Church related.
    When our children were young and later had children we used to have a gathering at our house, those were good times. Now there is just the two of us as our children and grandchildren are grown and away and they have their own Celebrations now.
    It is not like it used to be, but that’s alright too.
    I went to the local Nursing home Friday, had an informal talk about Gabriel’s visit to Zacharias and Mary, we went to Church yesterday and we are going to the Nursing Home this morning for our usual Christmas Worship service.
    Thank you for writing.


    And so it goes, Martin…as you have noted. Our daughter asked me how we have been married over 50 years, and yet we have two divorced children. I ask myself the same thing as the grandchildren left to go to their “other” grandparents on Christmas day. We do what we can, influence them as we can, and pray that God’s direction will come to the surface.
    Thanks for your devotional and still Merry Christmas.
    (Texas)

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