Christmas Must Be Something More!

What if ribbons and bows didn’t mean a thing
Would the song still survive without five golden rings
Would you still wanna kiss without mistletoe
What would happen if God never let it snow
What would happen if Christmas carols told a lie
Tell me what would you find

You’d see that today holds something special
Something holy, not superficial
So here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives
It’s something we all try to ignore
And put a wreath up on your door
So here’s something you should know that is for sure
Christmas must be something more

What if angels did not pay attention to
All the things that we wished they would always do
What if happiness came in a cardboard box
Then I think there is something we all forgot
What would happen if presents all went away
Tell me what would you find

You’d see that today holds something special
Something holy, not superficial
So here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives
It’s something we all try to ignore
And put a wreath up on your door
So here’s something you should know that is for sure
Christmas must be something more

We get so caught up in all of it
Business and relationships
Hundred mile an hour lives
And it’s this time of year
And everybody’s here
It seems the last thing on your mind

Is that the day holds something special
Something holy, not superficial
So here’s to Jesus Christ who saved our lives
It’s something we all try to ignore
And put a wreath up on your door
But here’s something you should know that is for sure
Christmas must be something
Christmas must be something
Christmas must be something more

There’s gotta be more
There’s gotta be more

The World Keeps Spinning and There’s No Time To Waste

As we get closer to Christmas, I am reflecting more and more about my life. Christmas means different things to different people, but generally most people think of Christmas as a time of giving and getting together with family and friends. For me of course, it is more than that. It is about the birth of my personal savior, Jesus Christ. The giving and rejoicing starts there, as we reflect on His sinless life, and the message he was sending to the world by his example.

But I do recognize that not everyone is a Christian, and that Christmas may mean something different to you. But as I was saying, it causes me to reflect on my past. When I look back at the last 43 years, I have had 43 Christmas stories. Some have been very joyful, and others have been very sad. But the constant in my life has always been my family. I have never really been alone on Christmas, even if some years I felt I was. I have been so blessed to have a united family around me that made it a point to get together on Christmas and thank God for everything we have.

As the title to this post states, the world keeps spinning and there’s no time to waste. That statement is not my own creation. It is taken from a song by Jack Johnson called Upside Down. It stood out to me, because as we get closer to Christmas, I have been pausing to reflect on how quickly time passes as we go about our normal everyday activities. For me, 43 years have past in what now seems like a blink of an eye, and it causes me to think about how I have spent the years God has blessed me with on this earth. Have I used them wisely? Could I have done things differently? What does He have in store for me in the future?

As I write this, one thing stands out. I have wasted time. There are snapshots in my mind from my past I wish I could change. I look back at all the times I was arrogant. I look back at all of the times I argued, fought, or worried about things that today are so pointless. So much time wasted. I remember the friends I lost, the people I offended, the good work I squandered. I mean, if you look at my life, I wasn’t constantly causing trouble or squandering my time. I am generally happy with my life. But as a fallen creature in a fallen world, there have been plenty of times I did stupid things. Time wasted my friends, time wasted.

But I also believe things happen for a reason. Without every one of those incidents where I foolishly wasted time, I would not be the person I am today. Obviously I would not be writing this blog post, and you would not be reading it. It is quite an awesome thing to consider, this thing called life. Moments in time, strung together, that in its entirety, makes up my existence, my identity. Without my regrets, without my mistakes, without my sin, I would not have grown as a person. However, having grown from my mistakes does not mean I should repeat them. It means I know better today. So I argue a little less. I fight a little less. I appreciate a little more. Things I would dismiss or walk past today, I stop to take in today. My priorities are certainly different today than they were 20 years ago.

So how has this Christmas caused you to ponder about your past?

It’s Still Crooked!

December 22nd, some time in the 80’s….

I was a teenager, living with my dad and step mom. Both of them had been very busy running a business, trying to make ends meet. There had been no time for Christmas trees and decorations. The rest of my brothers and I had been telling Dad about getting a Christmas tree, and he kept saying the same thing. “Soon, son, soon…”. Well, soon turned into a couple of days before Christmas eve, and….nothing….

“This is the saddest Christmas ever.”

“This really sucks!”

“All my friends have Christmas trees.”

There were other comments as well, not just from the kids, but from my step mom as well. I guess the guilt trip finally got to Dad, and…

“Gosh darn it, we are going out tonight and get a tree!”

So we all piled into the family car, and drove off in search of the perfect tree.

Well, if you have to get a tree so close to Christmas, I am sure you can imagine that the definition of the word “perfect” might need some adjustment. The trip started out with the idea of getting a great big tree, a mammoth expression of our love for the holiday. Images of a huge towering tree taking up the entire living room, with hundreds of lights, and endless number of ornaments hanging from our acquisition soon began to change and morph as we went from location to location. It was getting late, and none of us had eaten dinner, but still no tree.

Dad was getting frustrated. I am sure he was aware that he would be blamed for ruining Christmas at this point. Something had to be done.

“Ok there is one other place we can go.”

We get to the last place in town we knew that was selling trees. It was almost closing time. The employees were not exactly happy to see us. But Gosh darn it, we were buying a tree. I won’t tell you when we got to the place that our hopes were lifted. If I remember correctly there were a total of five or six trees left, if you could actually call them trees. They were drying out already, and had few branches. Think Charlie Brown Christmas. We looked over our choices, weighed our options. Dad moves to the back and finds one of them.

“This is the one!”

“It is kind of crooked.”

“I will fix that.”

Did he actually say that? Fix it? Oh boy. So he pays for the tree, and it gets mounted on top of our car, and we are home bound. We start to lift our spirits. We have a tree! My step mom starts to talk about the ornaments she is going to bring out, Dad says he has some lights in the garage, and we start singing, carrying on. This is going to be the best Christmas ever!

Then one of us asks a question.

“Dad do you have a stand?”

Long pause. Silence. A small bead of sweat is now visible on Dad’s brow.

“We don’t need a stand. I will make one!”

Oh boy.

Now we are home, and mom is gathering the ornaments and lights while we bring in the tree. Dad is now holding the tree upright, pondering his next move. Again, there is a long silence while we all await Dad’s answer to the whole stand issue.

“Ok, you go into the back yard and get that bucket. And the rest of you, get as many rocks as you can. Hurry up!”

Oh boy. Within minutes, we gather a few hundred pounds of rock (or at least it seemed that way), and a 5 gallon paint bucket. Dad directs one of us to hold the bucket, while he picks up the tree and places it in the bucket. Then he tells us to fill the remaining space with rocks while he holds the tree.

“Gosh darn it, son hurry up!” He did not really say gosh, nor did he say darn it.

“It’s still crooked!”

Dad steps back to look at his creation. But after a couple of seconds, the tree starts to lean over, then begins to fall, and we all rush to hold it up. Apparently the rocks are not enough.

“Ok kids, take the wheelbarrow and fill it with dirt. Hurry!”

Within minutes, the bucket was packed with dirt along with the rocks. Surely now it will hold right? Nope. Still leans when you let it go. There are frowns all around now, and Dad gets the stinking feeling Christmas won’t happen unless something is done quick. MacGyver suddenly makes his appearance.

“Ok go to the garage and get that spool of wire….”

“And the tool box, and some nails!”

At this point I was pretty scared. Was this the Christmas we all end up in the hospital? How was my step mom going to explain this to the ER doctor.

“Then my husband got some nails…”

So Dad tells us to move the tree over, away from the wall. Out comes the hammer and nails, and Dad strategically pounds two nails into the wall. He then cuts a long strand of wire, wrapping it around the trunk of the tree. With the tree back in its place, he stretches the wire tight and then ties each end of the wire to the nails. Now – miraculously – our tree stays in place. Look mom, no hands!

We all step back, surveying our accomplishment. We are smiling now, and pride can clearly be seen in our faces. Yeah, it’s a screwed up, dis-functional tree, but it’s our tree, and Christmas was back on!

“It’s still crooked!”

My little brother got a swift slap up side the head for that crack. No one wanted to hear that right now. We were all too tired, sweaty, and full of tree sap to deal with any more set backs. Besides, we all knew Dad had a level in the tool box, and if he brought that thing out, we would be at this all night.

The rest of the night involved lights, ornaments, hot chocolate, singing, horsing around, and it turned out to be one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Psst…..That Christmas tree was there until March….

Why is There a Couch in Front of Your Christmas Tree?

Early 70’s….

I am in our apartment in Union City. In a few more days, it would be time to open the presents. My letter to Santa Claus had been written, which contained, among other things:

Lawn darts
Rock em Sock em Robots
A Hot wheels cars race track
A pretty dress for my mom

From this list, one could assume I wanted to be a NASCAR driver, impale my friends with daggers in my backyard, had a serious anger management problem, and was not fond of my mom’s fashion choices.

My mom had gotten a big Christmas tree this year. It looked 20 feet tall from my tiny eyes, almost reaching the ceiling. It was not a real tree, but looked beautiful, with plenty of blinking lights and silver tinsel. I would sit and watch it often, thinking how great it was going to be to open all of those gifts. I had completely stopped picking on my younger brothers. I was hoping to catch up on some good behavior, in the hopes of keeping Santa happy and receiving everything on my list. Yep, it was all about me.

My little brother was a pain in neck. He just wouldn’t sit still. He got into everything, and if you complained or tried to stop him, he would whine and cry. He didn’t understand Christmas yet. He didn’t realize that the Christmas tree was something you just looked at. To him, it was a big toy. He also had another obsession – getting behind things. So it was not uncommon to find him behind the dresser, or behind the china cabinet.

So one day, as I walk through the living room, I see him. He is walking near the tree, looking for his next conquest. Of course I didn’t know that. Next thing I know, there he is – behind the tree. I will always remember the next few seconds in slow motion.

Push!

“NOOOOOOOO”

Down comes the tree.

The majority of the ornaments were glass, and now never to be used again. The tinsel was all over the place. And there is my little brother, on top of the mess – crying. He did it again. After mom finished cleaning up the mess and restoring the tree to it proper place, it was no longer the tree I had remembered. It was just a bare tree – no ornaments, just a few little pieces of tinsel. Oh and the best part, our couch was now in front of the tree, in an effort to keep the devil child away from it. The rest of that Christmas, any time someone came by the house, we had to endure the weird looks and obvious “What the…” questions. For several years after, our tree was reduced to a two foot miniature tree placed on a high shelf on a book case. Good grief Charlie Brown!

You want to know something? I miss those years, every single one of them. We were so innocent, and so was the world around us compared to today’s standards. We ate at the table as a family. We talked to each instead of staring at video games. There was no Face Book or My Space so we all actually communicated with each other in person. We were four boys and life in our house was chaos, but we really got the chance to be children, instead of being forced to grow up so quickly like kids are today.

My brother is an adult now, with a wife, and a new baby boy, my nephew. In the future I hope to spend Christmas with my little brother and his family. I hope to see my nephew open his presents, and see that he receives some of the toys he asked Santa for.

But above all else, I hope one day to walk into his home, and see a couch in front of his Christmas tree.