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 each year, Grandma wrapped the tree in Saran Wrap ( 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 their tree, 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. Because of their hospitality, I did not realize until years later that they never owned their own home. Grandpa had been a pastor raising his family in church parsonages until his retirement. Following his retirement, 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 would finally arrive. On this particular Christmas, 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 had someone turn off the TV. Pulling out his worn Bible, he read the Christmas story from the book of Luke.
I fidgeted, complained to myself, and rolled my eyes at my cousins. I knew the story by heart, I wanted to open my presents. I listened begrudgingly.
Afterwards, Grandpa closed his Bible and shared the plan of salvation with his children and grandchildren. The most important part of Christmas for Grandpa was the opportunity each year to share one more time the story of Jesus and the freedom His birth brought to us. Grandpa told us how much he loved us and wanted us to accept Jesus as our personal Savior. He asked if anyone would like to accept Christ as their personal Savior, to not put off the decision. Then he prayed, thanking the Lord for His many blessings, most of all for his family. He asked 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 grandchildren lunged into our gifts. Christmas had officially begun! Amongst the flying wrapping paper and squeals of delight, I will not forget Grandpa sitting in his chair quietly wiping away 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. Each year since, Caleb has put my grandparent’s tree in his room at Christmas. It reminds me of them, their home, and their love. I do not recall the gifts they gave me for 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.