Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Maybe all my life I’ve been expecting too much out of Christmas and not enough from Jesus Christ. Christmas itself cannot deliver all our heart’s desires, but Jesus can.

Soon It Will Be Christmas Day – Part 2

December 16, 2001


It was mid-December 1977 and oh, how I couldn’t wait for Christmas. Nearly every day when I arrived home on the bus from 4th Grade, I would head inside the house and plug in the Christmas tree. Then I would get out Mom and Dad’s Christmas records. And there I would sit, listening to Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and Tennessee Ernie Ford sing about the wonders of Christmas, as I basked in the warm glow of the lighted tree. Perfectly amazed by it all, and painfully impatient.

I didn’t always just sit. Sometimes…well, most times…I would investigate the items under the tree. At our house wrapped presents began to appear two or three weeks before Christmas Day. Maybe that’s what made me so impatient.

I would search under the tree for the gifts with my name on them. And then, making sure Mom wasn’t looking, I’d shake the boxes, trying to figure out what might be inside. A rattle was always a good indication it might be a toy. A soft shifting sound was a tip-off that perhaps clothes were inside – and automatically meant that I would choose to open that box LAST!

If shaking didn’t work, there was always the old “press the paper tight to the box and attempt to read the label” trick. Don’t laugh, some of you still do this, don’t you? Of course it only works for items in their original packaging if the Christmas paper is rather thin. This tactic led to my parents purchasing the heavy foil paper for wrapping all of my gifts.

Today, my Mom tells me that I nearly drove her crazy in the days leading up to Christmas. She could understand a boy being curious, but believed any child who spent an hour scientifically examining his presents every day after school was a bit excessive. I was so impatient.

Then, after what seemed like an eternity, Christmas Day finally arrived. All I was waiting for was finally here! Our family gathered in the living room, taking their usual places. When it came my turn to open a gift, I was handed heaviest present under the tree. This one had me stumped. What could it be? I tore off the paper to find a set of…….DISHES?! Corelle dishes?? This isn’t what I was expecting! What a let down! What kind of sadistic person would give dishes to a nine-year-old?

Then I noticed across the room that my Mom had also just opened a present. Hers was a Lego 145 building set – exactly what I had wanted! Knowing that I would shake the presents every day, and that the sound of Legos is unmistakable, my brother and sister switched the name-tags.

Pretty funny – for THEM! Despite the emotional scarring, Christmas 1977 was everything I hoped it would be. It still lived up to all my expectations.

I love the line from the song “Silver Bells” that says, “In the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas.”

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.

Dressed in holiday style

In the air

There’s a feeling

of Christmas

Children laughing

People passing

Meeting smile after smile

and on every street corner you’ll hear

Silver bells…”

That unmistakable feeling of Christmas – the feeling of anticipation. During the days leading up to Christmas, expectations run high. But will it be able to deliver on all the hype?

As I age, I’m sorry to say that Christmas doesn’t always live up to my expectations any more.

Not that I don’t enjoy it, or find it incredibly meaningful – each one seems to be full of all the things that Christmas should be and so much more.

It’s just that last year something happened. Our family – kids and all - had gathered at Mom and Dad’s house to celebrate, and we had just opened all the presents. As I looked around the room at the piles of ripped up wrapping paper – bows strewn here and there – empty boxes in a heap; All of a sudden, I got melancholy. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and the giant lump developing in my throat.

I looked at my Dad and said, “It’s over.”

After all that build up – all that anticipation – all that work and preparation – all that shopping and wrapping. It’s over – and in a matter of minutes. Was that all there is to it?

Christmas was over. Gone like a vapor or a mist. Back at our house the decorations would eventually get put away – the ones Kim and I took such delight in getting out a few shorts weeks ago. And you know what I’m talking about. Suddenly the house feels so empty.

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