Here is an old post from a couple of Christmases ago. I had the opportunity to share it with someone lately and just thought I would post it again. Hope you enjoy it.
In November of 1970, my father, who was the pastor of a church plant in the Atlantic provinces, was told by his church board that they no longer wanted him as their pastor. In fact, they told him that his preaching was juvenile, that he was no leader and if they had their he way would never preach again. His life and that of our family, caved in, in unimaginable ways. There is no way to adequately describe the devastation that was brought into our home because of the things that were said and done.
I do not remember Christmas 1970. My father was unemployed and there was no money at all. I do remember him paying for gas with 200 pennies he had taken put of my piggy bank. I remember that when he was forced to move I remained behind as a seventeen year old youth and moved in with friends. Within a year Dad had gotten placed into a little church that was dying. I went to their place that Christmas and walked into a home that was not very Christmassy. Life was being very hard.
The house they lived in had no foundation and it was sitting precariously on masonry bricks. The cold Atlantic winds swept into the house and made it very cold. Rats had infested the attic by climbing up inside the walls that were exposed for anything that could fit into them. There was almost no money.
On Christmas Eve that year my father came into the room where my mother and I were sitting and announced that he was going to bed despite the fact that even though a tree had been obtained it was not yet up. Nor were there any other decorations. The heart was gone from my father to get at it at this late hour. My mother and I said good night to him.
We sat there and I do not remember whose idea it was, but knowing my mother I cannot imagine that it was not hers. She most likely said “I am going to get that tree up if it kills me”. (I’ll tell you more about her and that attitude some other time.) We decided to get that tree up no matter what. It was approaching midnight and Mom and I got the thing up and got to decorating it. I turned on the television to see if there was a Christmas special of some sort from one of the two stations that we got. A Cat Stevens special (Yes, that Cat Stevens). So we decorated the Christmas tree as Cat Stevens sang to us about peace trains and moon shadows and the celebration of the birth of Christ. We got the tree up and decorated and wrapped presents and managed to decorate the house as well.
I think I can safely say that this was the most valuable time I ever spent with my mom. We worked and listened to the TV and laughed together as we tried to bring a little bit of our traditional Christmas celebrations into that house. It was well into the morning by the time we finished. My younger brother and sister would be awaking soon to come in and unwrap gifts so mom and I said goodnight to get a quick couple of hours. I do not remember the opening of presents that Christmas. It may be that there were not very many to open. (Although it is more likely that there was an obscene amount of stuff due to the largess of my Aunt Mildred.) I don’t remember the Christmas dinner or the football games that may have been telecast or anything that I know were going on that day in that house.
But here is what I do remember. I remember my mother and I waiting with anticipation as my father got up to enter the living room to begin the process of opening presents. And I remember the look on his face as he stopped in the doorway and stared at the fully decorated tree and the room all ready for Christmas. And I will never forget his first comment. No, it was not some verse of Scripture or a shout of praise. He was a very godly man but he was also a real man who was fully expecting Christmas to be less than what he had wanted. As he stood there the words that came out of his mouth were “Well, there really is a Santa Claus”.
I have played Santa Claus since then but I have never been the real thing again the way that I was that Christmas. That little comment made my Christmas in a powerful way, not because I was able to decorate a tree, but because the decorating of it made the man I loved most in the world enjoy a Christmas that he was expecting to be less than what he wanted and was accustomed to. God did it and I am thankful that He was willing to use me to do something for that man. Thirty eight years later that memory still helps me. Amazing what little things God uses to encourage His children.
May the little things you do for others this Christmas be used of God to accomplish far more than you can ask or think. Merry Christmas.