by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer
As a small child, I remember waking into that first magical Christmas morning when it was all about presents under the Christmas tree, my mother’s delicious cooking and the intensity with which I and my brothers played with our new toys.
Then it was over. The brightly colored wrapping paper was cleaned away, the toys were no longer quite new, and the festive tree began to dry and die. It was, however, the first Christmas in which I was aware that there would someday be another Christmas.
Someday took an awfully long time to arrive. As January slipped into February, Christmas became a distant memory. The only time the word was used, was in such phrases as, what are you waiting for? Christmas? Yes, next Christmas was so very far away that it seemed more theory than fact, more hope than promise.
Over the coming years I became aware that Christmases seemed to come and go more rapidly than when I had been a small child. Today, they seem to zip by in a flurry. Yes, there was that first Christmas without Mom, and then without Dad. There was my daughter’s first Christmas and then her children’s first Christmases. Each one was special and unique, yet even so, they continued to stream by ever more quickly.
One day, I had my second “First Christmas.” I had become an adult, a father and life had taken its toll on this fragile thing that once I had thought was a strong man. I was straight of back physically, but spiritually bent, weak, and in desperate need of something that no physical source could provide.
I was in church. There was a small, traditional Christmas play with costumed children, a doll Jesus, and cardboard cutout sheep. Primitive as it may seem, this humble church service was, in my eyes, high drama, the very highest. I knew then that whatever I had lacked before in life, it was now placed before me for the taking. It was salvation from my worst enemy, myself. It was liberation from my own flaws and weaknesses, and most of all, from my own sins.
The greatest of all Christmas gifts is Christmas itself. Only God can bestow it. May He lavish it upon each of you in great abundance!