Christmas in July

Preacher Chris Rathbone

Mitchell County

 

Yeah, Yeah, I know you didn’t want to hear that! The fact of the matter is, you’ll be hearing it from retailers this month more than likely. Trust me, it’ll be here before you know it, just like July came so quickly. One of the things that happens as we get older is time goes by so much faster. Days seem long but the years go fast! Let me tell you how Christmas got on my mind.

Last night, my wife Michelle and I were talking about some memories from when we were kids. One of the things she remembered was how she could see the Christmas tree lights from the bedroom. She would lie in bed and look at all the beautiful colors radiating from the tree till she fell asleep or her parents would turn them off.  As a child, it all seemed so magical and exciting.

Very seldom did my family have what you called a “store-bought” tree. Most of the time we went to woods and found a small white pine for our tree. We had the “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree for sure. But it made no difference to us, we were just as excited. We decorated with what we had, and once the tree went up, the anticipation and hope for a gift under the tree made those last couple of weeks before Christmas seem like they lasted forever.

One of the fondest memories I have is lying under the tree with my head close to the trunk. I would lie there on my back looking up through the branches as the lights flashed and twinkled. For some reason, this was so peaceful and magical to me. As Christmas day grew closer, so grew the anticipation and excitement of what gift might be under the tree on Christmas morning. To say my family wasn’t wealthy is putting it lightly. Don’t get me wrong, we made it, but we never had the finer things in life if you know what I mean. However, even as poor as I thought we were, there were other families who had less than us. The anticipation of possibly receiving a special present on Christmas meant a lot more in those days. When your family doesn’t have a whole lot, the hope of being given something extra that you normally didn’t get, made Christmas a big deal. Don’t get me wrong, our family celebrated the birth of Christ. We attended church, had parts in the Christmas play, went caroling, etc. But as a kid who didn’t have much, hoping and praying for that one thing you want so bad is a big deal! Some of y’all know what I’m talking about.

In those days, cartoons were only on Saturday morning. During the commercials, the retailers would advertise the newest and latest toys for that year. Around 1980, there was a hot toy for boys being advertised consistently. It was called the “Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle Gyro Launcher”. The set featured Evel Knievel sitting on a motorcycle. You placed the motorcycle on a stand which had a winding handle on the side. You would turn the handle faster and faster which “wound up” the motorcycle. When it reached a certain speed, the motorcycle would launch and speed across the floor to jump whatever ramp you had set up. Trust me, as an eight-year-old boy, it was one of the most awesome things I had ever seen! Decked out in red, white, and blue with stars on his outfit, Evel Knievel was a superhero! I would literally lie awake at night and dream of what it would be like if that were to be under the Christmas tree. What joy and jubilation would ensue if that’s what Dad and Mom got. The toy was a little pricey, so the chances were slim. However, it didn’t stop me from showing it to Dad and Mom every time we went into Sky City store. It didn’t stop me from dreaming, praying, begging, and losing sleep, with the hope that I might get that one gift that seemed so far out of reach.

You’re probably wondering, “Why in the world is he writing about things like this in the summertime?” Well, as we were sharing these memories Michelle made a statement that seemed to stick with me. She said, “People have so much nowadays that we don’t even get too excited when we receive a gift. The excitement that we had when we were kids is almost gone.”

It doesn’t have to be a Christmas gift. We are blessed with so much that any time we receive a gift it seems we give the usual “thank you” and move on. Kids get so much throughout the year that they don’t even blink an eye after opening a gift and then quickly move on to the next one. Some even get mad and pitch a “hissy fit” if they don’t get what they want. Let me say that we are spoiled.

We have been given so much in this life that we have lost the excitement, joy,  and appreciation that we should have when we receive a gift. Matter of fact, it seems many Christians have lost their appreciation for the greatest gift God ever gave, His Son Jesus Christ. The excitement of being saved and forgiven doesn’t seem to excite too many people. Many give barely a nod of thanks if any, to the Lord for all He has done for us. Every day we enjoy these blessings in life and don’t even think of the One who gave them to us. We have become so accustomed to having so much, we have forgotten what it was like without them.  Each day is a gift from God. Each necessity we are given comes from God. Life and breath come from our Heavenly Father.  Jesus died to give us the free gift of salvation. If that’s not enough to cause us joy and excitement, nothing else will!

Let us receive each day as a gift for which we have been longing. May we realize how much we have given in this life and show our appreciation and excitement to the Lord and to others. May every day be a day in which we have joy and show joy for all we have received. Perhaps this article should be called “Thanksgiving in July”  instead of “Christmas in July”.

Help us, Lord Jesus, to realize how much we have been given! May the joy and excitement of all these gifts cause us to worship and give you thanks daily! Amen.

Oh, and guess what was under the tree that year.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

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Preacher Chris Rathbone serves as Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church.

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