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Christmas: Remembering Things That Matter
12/21/2016 11:55:19 AM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

Christmas is right around the corner and I am just not ready but ready or not it’s coming. Last year this time, the decorations were up and shopping done in anticipation of my two year old grandson spending Christmas with me. It’s just something about grandchildren that energizes you. In many ways, you can see your children’s lives play out through the grands. It’s the little things they do or say that endear them to you. You are happy to see them come and oftentimes to see them go.

Growing up, there was just something special about Christmas. As Christmas drew near, you could just feel the excitement in the air. To children today, it’s just another day. To me, Christmas was a time to get something new, or at least new to me, that I would not normally get doing the year.

My dad was the lone breadwinner in our household so he didn’t have much left at year’s end but we knew dad would come through for Christmas. I can remember the hand-me-downs and fixer uppers. It wasn’t easy for dad to take care of a wife and four children on his Steel Plant salary. One Christmas, Santa brought us a red wagon full of fruits and candy. Another time, Santa left two bicycles to share between the four children. That really was a lesson in sharing because I don’t ever remember us fighting over who was going to ride the bike and when.

In the absence of things, dad made up for it in love. He didn’t spend a whole lot on toys but he spent a lot of time on his children. He spent money on things that mattered—things that would benefit us later on in life. We went on what I would later define as an “educational trip” to Florida and rode on a glass bottom boat. And, he took us to see the Blue Ridge Mountains. While other children had things, we had “exposure”. It paid off because we did the same thing for our children. It’s sort of a ripple down effect. Today’s children do not get enough “exposure”. Too much time is spent in the house, gaming, texting, sexting and on other thing-a-ma-jigs.

So, why am I thinking of yesteryear’s Christmas? Those were the good times. Children were acting and dressing like children. Times have changed and so have children. Bikes and skates are no longer at the top of their list. Children are asking Santa for gift cards, computers and the latest and greatest phones.

Speaking of gift cards, I saw Santa in Lowe’s checking out the gift card display. Since I knew Santa, I asked him “what da heck are you looking for”? He said, “a phone gift card for my daughter” and off went to the checkout. I chuckled to see Santa in line at the register. I guess Santa won’t need his elves and sleigh any longer if all he is dropping off are gift cards. And, FedEx and UPS are dropping off big ticket items.

Christmas is not about the toys and gifts but about the Christ in Christmas. It is about sharing and caring and visiting those that are sick and less fortunate. While I miss the eggnog and house hopping on Christmas Eve to help my friends wrap presents, assemble toys and place them under the tree once the children were tucked into bed, I now know the true meaning of Christmas.

The little girl that once believed in Santa grew up to believe in her dad. I know because that little girl was me. I played peek-a-boo with Santa until I drifted off to sleep. And, then dad quietly slipped past my room and left my gifts under the tree. I never caught him in the act but I knew he was Santa. I questioned Santa’s existence as a child but I never questioned my dad. Santa was a mystery. I could never understand how Santa made his rounds to every child in one night. No one told me but I found out. I never “ratted” Santa out.

As time passes, children will learn the true meaning of Christmas and Santa’s identity like I did. They will learn about those things that really matter. Christmas is not about an imaginary Santa Claus and greedy merchants; it’s about the birth of Christ.

Merry Christmas y’all and to y’all a good night!

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