Chuck Terrill: Memories of Christmas
When I think of Christmas memories past, I don't remember many Christmas presents.
I know that I was excited on Christmas mornings, but it isn't the presents I remember.
I remember that our old station-wagon broke down on Interstate 40 in a bitter blizzard. We were on the way to grandma's house, and were miles from our destination. The back seat was full of brothers and sisters, and the far back of the wagon was filled with presents. It was late on Christmas Eve, and there was very little traffic.
A semi truck stopped, and all of us piled into his cab for a ride to the next town. That was a magical ride — an answer to prayer. How many kids get to ride in a semi and blow the horn on Christmas Eve?
I remember the Christmas when my daughter was 1 week old, and Mary wrapped her in swaddling clothes and laid her in the manger at our church Christmas program. All the children were on the stage, draped in old curtains and bathrobes, reenacting the Christmas story. The spotlight moved to the manger. The audience gasped when what they thought was a doll began to flail her arms. Sarah stole the show in a way that I will never forget. That memory of church, and friends, the Christmas story and a healthy baby daughter was one of the greatest presents I have ever received.
I remember one Christmas week, 35 years ago, when the whole family, 18 of us, were ice bound in a small, two-bedroom house. The pipes in the house froze, so there were no showers, and the toilet could not be flushed. We took turns going outside to bring in armloads of wood, but the little stove made slight difference. Ice formed on the inside of the windows from our breath. Tree branches continued to snap like rifle shots around the house. We talked, napped, laughed, drank black coffee and played cards for three days. I remember it, fondly, like it was yesterday.
I recollect well our first Christmas with our first granddaughter in the house. I saw the happiness on her face as she marveled at the decorated tree and desperately tried to eat anything she could get her hands on. Have you ever seen a toddler with Christmas tree icicles hanging out of her mouth like globs of silver spaghetti? Then, over the years, God added seven granddaughters, and one grandson. I cannot tell you what we bought them over these past many Christmases, but I can tell you about the joy they have brought to Mary and me.
If you think about it, you will certainly agree that Christmas is centered in relationships. Relationships are much more valuable than any brightly wrapped present. Christmas presents are broken, discarded and forgotten. Relationships, and the memories associated with them, last forever.
Those of us who believe in the real meaning of Christmas understand that Christ came because He wanted to have a relationship with us. Christ's relationship with mankind is one present that is too memorable to be forgotten.
Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 417-847-2460.,/em>