My grandparents did not have fancy Christmas decorations. In fact, their Christmas tree was so small it sat on top of their TV. After Christmas Grandma put plastic wrap around it (tree, lights, decorations and all) and put it on a shelf behind her bedroom door. Tiny twinkling lights and decorations covered the tree and on top sat a gold tinsel and light star that was almost as big as the tree. The little things, like that tree, that I never took the time to appreciate mean so much now.
Christmas (or any other time) at my grandparent’s home was nice. They were not wealthy by any standard but their home was filled with generosity. Maybe it is because of that spirit of hospitality that it didn’t occur to me at the time that they had never owned their own home. Grandpa had been a pastor so they lived in church parsonages until his retirement. Following pastoring, they rented a home and in later years moved into a duplex. The rented home and duplex were always “Grandma’s house” to me.
My cousins and I looked forward to the time following Christmas Eve dinner when we opened presents at Grandma and Grandpa’s. We would send envoys into the kitchen to ask our mothers, “Is it time yet?” After waiting impatiently for what seemed an eternity, the time finally arrived. Adults and children gathered in the small living room and gifts were passed out to everyone. As my cousins and I sat ready to start ripping into presents, Grandpa would have someone turn off the TV. Pulling out his worn Bible, he would read the Christmas story from the book of Luke.
I would fidget, complain to myself, and roll my eyes at my cousins. I knew the story by heart, I wanted to open my presents, but I would listen begrudgingly. Afterwards, Grandpa would close his Bible and share the plan of salvation with us. The most important part of Christmas for Grandpa was the opportunity to share one more time the story of Jesus and the freedom His birth brought to us. Grandpa would tell us how much he loved us and wanted us to accept Jesus as our personal Savior. He would ask if any of us would like to accept Christ as our personal Savior, to take the time now and not put off the decision. Then he would pray, thanking the Lord for His many blessings, most of all for his family. He would ask the Lord to be with each of us, to draw us to Him and to save those in our family who were not Christians.
When Grandpa said amen, we children lunged into our gifts. Christmas had officially begun! Amongst the flying wrapping paper and squeals of delight, Grandpa sat in his chair quietly wiping away the tears.
Caleb, my oldest son was just six-years-old when Grandma joined Grandpa singing and dancing around the throne of God. Caleb wanted Grandma’s tiny Christmas tree. Now each year, Caleb and I put my grandparent’s tree in his room at Christmas. It reminds me of them, their home, and their love. I don’t recall a single gift they gave me at Christmas. I do remember a tiny tree and a simple story.
I thank the Lord for the legacy of grandparents who lived and shared the true meaning of Christmas. In the hustle and bustle of Christmas, take time to focus on those traditions and memory-making opportunities that have lasting eternal value in the hearts of your children and grandchildren.