Christmas Expectations

And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (I Timothy 6:8) NKJV

None of us ever figured out how she did it. Granny always sat in the third pew from the front at church and the night of the Christmas pageant was no different. At the end of the service, as soon as the hymnals were stowed in the pew racks and the minister had said the benediction, she somehow made it from her seat to the vestibule in the rear of the church ahead of the rest of us.

It was there that the men of the church were handing out fruit and nut bags the women had assembled in one of the Sunday School rooms in the basement hours before. There really wasn’t that much to them---a couple of apples, an orange, a few unshelled nuts and a couple of pieces of unwrapped hard candy, delivered in an unadorned brown paper lunch sack. 

Granny may have been old but she was spry enough to muscle her way to the front of the line. It wasn’t as if she never got those things. I always felt it harkened back to the time in her memory of her childhood in the 1890s when an orange in the toe of a stocking on Christmas morning was cause for celebration. 

She was no stranger to adversity. In her youth, she worked in an urban cotton mill during the time it was basically a sweatshop. Then, after her marriage to my Granddaddy, who was a farmer, she lost her only son as an infant and took on the life of a pioneer woman. In the very time she should have been enjoying her golden years, she was the caregiver to a string of three relatives, two of whom were her junior. Fate dealt her many cruel blows, but, in spite of it all, she was a remarkable woman who soldiered on and rarely complained.

As a result of this austere upbringing, she was able to, as the writer so aptly put in Hebrews 13:5, “Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” Granny lived with this reassurance all of her 89 years. 

Granny managed to keep her bearings in the midst of the consumer-driven economy of mid-twentieth century America, when I grew up, which gave birth to the likes of Barbie and GI Joe. In contrast, my life, like that of many of my peers, is a testimony to problems of my own making. 

When I think of Christmases past, thoughts of my Granny immediately spring to mind. It didn’t take much to stir feelings of childlike wonder in her because she never lost the ability to see it through eyes of faith and hope which grounded her. They not only sustained her through the dark times but also held the promise of a bright future which she caught a glimpse of every year at Christmas. We see this spirit in the story of the first Christmas and still may, like my Granny, see it this year if we will only pause to reflect. 

Thankfully, we are not denied that privilege because of poor choices we have made.

Prayer: Our Father, May we learn from our elders the lessons of simple, joyful living that are taught in your Scriptures. Amen

Carol (NC)