Christmas is here again; a season full of joyful singing, rich symbolism and happy get-togethers. A Christmas wreath hangs on our door, symbolic of the nativity wreaths used for generations in our churches, wreaths in which four candles stood, one candle for each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.
Christmas cards decorate our living room reminding us of the many lives that have touched ours: relatives, neighbours, and friends. We look forward every year to receiving your cards and letters!
A poinsettia sits on the coffee table. Brought from Mexico in 1828, these plants embodied for them the star of Bethlehem. Others feel that its green leaves represent the everlasting life Christ came to give, the red leaves the blood he shed, and the yellow flowers in the centre, the wounds he endured.
Presents have been purchased but not all wrapped, symbolic of the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh brought by the wise men to place at Jesus’ feet.
Carols play in the background. Joy to the World. Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Silent Night. O Come All Ye Faithful.
In pride of place sits our manger scene, symbolic of everything good Mary Helen and I enjoy. There is Mary who bore the Christ child, Joseph who refused to divorce her, shepherds beckoned to the scene by an angel choir and wise men led from the east by a star.
With our main celebration taking place at our daughter’s house, we chose this year not to erect a Christmas tree. Too much work—too little symbolism. For decoration, we do have a small ceramic one. Not that we’re opposed to the tradition which is said to originate in Germany in the 16th century where trees both inside and out were decorated with roses, apples, and coloured paper. It is believed that Martin Luther was the first to light a Christmas tree with candles.
Nor do we have a Santa Claus. I loved to hear Twas the Night Before Christmas read to me when I was a child. Now I love to re-read the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke. And yet, we are told, there is a legitimate connection with Saint Nicolas. “The original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, was born in Turkey in the 4th century. He was very pious from an early age, devoting his life to Christianity. He became widely known for his generosity for the poor. But the Romans held him in contempt. He was imprisoned and tortured. But when Constantine became emperor of Rome, he allowed Nicholas to go free. Constantine became a Christian and convened the Council of Nicaea in 325. Nicholas was a delegate to the council. He is especially noted for his love of children and for his generosity.”
What a wonderful time of the year: visits with friends, delicious meals, gatherings with family, candle-light services and rich symbolism. The symbols speak to me of that day over 56 years ago when Jesus Christ came into my heart bringing forgiveness, cleansing and a new and exciting motivation for living.
May your Christmas vibrate with the echoes of Bethlehem and shine with the light from the Christmas star!