December 2017 Newsletter: Memories of Christmas Past and Surprises
Each of us has our memories of past Christmases. I was twelve when my then eleven year old brother David received a brand new gold Schwinn bicycle. My father asked me to go with him to the store, to help him load it still in the box in the old Dodge Station Wagon, then take it out of the box and assemble it in the back hall of his office building. I don’t know if my father was feeling especially weak that day, or had somehow forgotten how to assemble a bicycle, or was testing whether I ALSO was expecting a bicycle for Christmas. I WASN’T. I had thrown newspapers that year to earn enough to buy a barely-used black Rally English Racer from a friend. I was proud of that bike, so I needed no shiny new replacement. I was also proud to know what my brother was receiving and to be trusted not to tell him. I was able to share my brother’s thrill in a different way than usual on Christmas morning: as a giver instead of as a jealous brother. Later I would appreciate that same satisfaction as a parent for many years, watching my own children open their gifts, not expecting any for myself at all, so feeling pleasantly surprised when they’d give me something: often some little thing they had made. I still have some of those.
In my usual Sgroogeness I sometimes poo-poo Christmas giving unfairly. The exchange of gifts is an important part of the season. Advent is about anticipation and waiting. As we buy gifts for others we anticipate their joy, perhaps also a bit nervous about whether or not they will like the gift. Thank God for return slips and re-gifting! Remember, the gift is NOT your identity. It really IS the thought that counts. And if you are not in a position to give that special someone some high-priced item to meet their expectation, a card will do. If it won’t, let them think again.
I appreciate the cards and letters from friends at Christmas-time. I wonder, though, whether my own “what our year was like” reflections may sometimes be a bit much! This year Mary and I have an expanded house, for which we are thankful, along with a bigger mortgage! But it’s worth it. It was great to have our daughters and their significant others sharing it with us over Thanksgiving.
Some of you have told me you have fond memories of late night Christmas Ever services at New Covenant, especially that magic moment circling around the sanctuary singing silent night, candle in hand. THIS YEAR we will NOT have a late night Christmas Eve Service. Since Christmas Eve falls this year on a Sunday, we will do that same worship format at 9 am- silent night, candles and all. Then at 5 pm our children and youth will present a Christmas Pageant. We encourage you to attend. Times change. Last year 50 or 60 attended this pageant, and only 15 or so came for 11 pm worship. If you still want that 11 pm experience, consider attending at one of these other local sister churches:
-Concord Trinity United Methodist 5275 South Lindbergh, Concord Village
-Trinity United Church of Christ 5200 Hilda Avenue, Saint Louis
-Bethesda Evangelical Church 86 Lemay Gardens Drive, Lemay
(click HERE to view or download the full December 2017 Newsletter)