Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year.
The celebratory atmosphere, the songs sung, and the joy that emanates from people during this period was to me—a boy of seven then—a magical and wonderful time.
One of my fondest memories of those times were of my parents trying their best to get a Christmas tree and surrounding it with gifts, lights and decorations. I would never forget the nights I helped decorate the tree. I wondered then if this was what heaven was like.
Though my parents celebrated Christmas with me, we were non-believers then. We celebrated because it was a holiday and because it was Christmas! It was a time where all of us, including our relatives, exchanged gifts, wished each other well, and had meals consisting of honey ham, turkey, log cake, and other delicious desserts.
No one then explained the significance of Christmas to me and the reason why it was a happy occasion. Would it have made a difference if as a child I had known about the birth of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for our sins at the cross? I honestly doubt so.
Fast forward to adulthood. Christmas is still my favorite time of the year, but now that I am a believer, it has took on new significance for me.
Like the different seasons, one would usually have to go through stages in life before we finally confront the person that we are. This happened to me when I was shown that the mundane, routine life I was leading held little meaning and I was slowly wasting away.
That fateful night, I made the decision to step into a world that helped me finally appreciate the true gift of Christmas—the gift of salvation and fellowship that God has given through Jesus. It was no longer about the fancy gifts that one could easily get, but about a worthwhile gift that I truly needed.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”—Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
Needless to say, I came to see Christmas in a different light. To me now, it has become the climax of God’s work of salvation for His people. All through the centuries, God has been preparing the way for Christ to come to earth, and we catch a glimpse of the impending Messiah’s birth through the words and lives of prophets, priests and kings.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1
Indeed there is a season for everything and Christmas is no different. It is not just a holiday, nor is it about the gifts we exchange with each other. To me, it is a time to be thankful for what God has given us, for that ultimate gift that is ours to have if we only believe.