Christmas Memories

December 20, 2017
by JJ Ollerenshaw

Deuteronomy 5:33 – Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. (NIV 2011)

Christmas wasn't a big deal when I was growing up, but my family would usually take the train to London to see "the lights". The windows of the big department stores displayed electric trains, animated bears clapping continuously, and sequinned ballet dancers spinning around on tip-toe. Trees were hung with baubles and lights. The city shimmered and glittered at night, and my whole family was mesmerized.

When I arrived in Canada on December 18th, 1968, I once again thought that I'd been transported to fairyland. My hosts drove north through snow-covered hills, every town beautifully lit with coloured lights. I had never seen lights outside private homes, and I was convinced that all Canadians must be exceedingly rich to be able to "waste" electricity like this. I was sure that I could prosper in this wonderful country!

Five years later on December 14th, I was married. Between us, my husband and I had scraped together the fifteen dollars required for a license. We wore our everyday clothes for the wedding, and afterwards, we returned to our rented accommodation, where we indulged in a sponge cake that had a single cherry on top, and placed two small gifts under our tiny tin-foil tree — hardly prosperous!

Many years found our Christmas tree surrounded by lumber, sheets of drywall, and a hastily swept pile of wood shavings as we renovated yet another room, and yet another house. We were so tired of this that once we loaded the kids into the car on Boxing Day and drove all the way to Florida, not stopping until we reached the beach three days later. Our exhausted spirits rose as we peeled off our fur-lined boots and waded in the ocean as the sun came up — and realized just how blessed we were.

There was the Christmas that our chimney caught fire — but not the house. There was the Christmas that we discovered our cat under the tree, drunk from a new catnip toy — but not quite dead. We carried him out limp and senseless to revive in the cold air. And the Christmas … well, you have your own Christmas memories.

As our children grew, each Christmas became more meaningful as we celebrated the real reason for the season, the Light of the world, and learned how to be obedient to Him.

God promises to prosper us if we're obedient. Blessings are not always about our financial state, even though in this materialistic world it's easy to get confused. We are an affluent society and we often bless ourselves instead of waiting on God's timing.

He has blessed me beyond belief. This Christmas after worship, we'll gather with our two adult children, their spouses, and our eight grandchildren around a glittering tree surrounded by gaily wrapped gifts, far too much food — and a lot of laughter, love, and joy.

Deuteronomy 7:9 – Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (NIV 2011)

God is faithful to His promises. Let's be faithful to Him!

Prayer: Father, we thank You for always remembering Your promises. This Christmas, as we hear the age-old story of Your birth, may we be reminded of the many ways that You've caused us to prosper, and may we be a blessing to others as You have blessed us. Amen.

About the author:

JJ Ollerenshaw <sandjollie@yahoo.com>
Belleville, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Great words, JJ. Have a Merry Christmas.


    Thank you for the great reminder of how truly blessed we are!


    Yes, we’ve been blessed with many heartwarming Christmas memories. Thanks for sharing yours. Blessings.


    Amen JJ, and thanks for a delightful trip down memory lane!
    Christmas blessings.


    Oh yes. We have been blessed by the coming Of Jesus when we celebrate his coming at Christmas.
    God bless.


    Thank you to J.J. for the devotional on Christmas Memories. As a Senior, it brought to mind many of my Christmases that I have experienced over the years. God bless.


    Enjoyed reading your devotional this morning. Yes, the Lord does supply all our needs. We are blessed!
    To you and your family, Merry Christmas!
    (Ontario)


    Thank you for a timely reminder to count our own personal blessings.
    Praying, and hoping, that your Christmas celebrations are all that you hope they will be.
    Merry Christmas,
    (ON.)


    That sponge cake story reminds me of when I was a child and money was tight, we had 3 January birthdays. My mother put 3 candles into a meat pie, which we all shared!
    We are truly blessed in Canada.
    I also believe if we cease being generous and limit helping other, and making past wrongs right, we may find our blessings will decrease.


    Thank you, JJ. Your memories are precious and your thoughts are eternal.
    Our church publishes a book of Advent devotionals written by the members.
    Many of them reflect on Christmases past, and they are also precious and a treasure.
    Merry Christmas to you and those your love.
    (Texas)


    Dear JJ and family,
    I thank God that you came to know the real reason for the season, and that you worship the One who came as Lord of all. Your devotional keeps getting better and better. I pray that Father, Son and Holy Spirit will continue to be the centre of your Christmas and of all your days.
    Keep writing for Jesus’ sake.


    Just a thought to follow your interesting devotional. Wouldn’t it make an interesting book if everyone who writes for this site contributed one outstanding Christmas memory?
    Have a wonderful blessed Christmas and new year.


    Your devotional reminded me of the Truman Capote story “Christmas Memories.” My oldest grandson loved the story.
    He said it reminded him of him and me.
    Thank you for the beautiful story and the recall of my own memory. Merry Christmas!
    (SouthCarolina USA)

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