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PLAIN THOUGHTS: A different kind of Christmas

By Judith Hensley
Plain Thoughts

Christmas is supposed to be one of the happiest, jolliest, sweetest times of the year. Friends gather for dinner and gift exchanges, parties, and caroling. Families meet for meals and gift exchanges.

Churches crowd in for the annual Christmas play featuring children and grandchildren. Sanctuaries have often been crowded to legal capacity as families gather to watch their children in the spotlight of the Christmas message.

School Christmas parties were something children always anticipated with joy.

With Covid-19 numbers surging, most of us are rethinking our Christmas gatherings and traditions. Shopping in person has shifted to shopping on-line for just the right present. Christmas cards that usually fill our mailboxes may not be there this year because shoppers haven’t been out and about to buy them or even find them in the stores.

With the hustle and bustle of Christmas luring shoppers into department stores for bargains, many of the bigger stores aren’t even stocking in merchandise as in years past. They want patrons to order on-line and have their items picked up at the door or at the store.

Perhaps all states haven’t cut back the way Kentucky has, but there has truly been a change this year in the Christmas outlook.

That’s okay with me. I think we’re being provided with a great opportunity to refocus on the true meaning of Christmas. It is a more solemn occasion to think of God’s great love for mankind, and how He showed us His divine love my sending His own Son to earth to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. so that we might come to know Him.

The images of Christ in a manger surrounded by the Mary, Joseph, and shepherds is only the beginning. I this year of a different kind of Christmas, may we also come to know that Christ is no longer a helpless babe, but is the Lion of Judah, seated at His Father’s hand and still extending to us the opportunity to know Him.

It’s a chance to focus on family, friends, and relationships that truly matter. The family members we saw once or twice a year at reunions, weddings, baby showers, and funerals are under very different restrictions. The friends we passed at work or got together with every couple of months have also been cut back to the point that many of us haven’t seen people we care about since last Christmas before the pandemic hit

Many of us have lost loved ones or friends this year through death and weren’t even able to attend the funerals because of public restrictions. We also realize the reality of loss in the future of loved ones who may fall sick.

My hope is that people will try harder this year to get in touch or stay in touch, whether it’s through a phone call, a Christmas card, an e-mail, or a message on Facebook. We can find creative ways to make this a different kind of Christmas one that we will always remember for good reasons.

My mom and dad are advancing in years, 89 and 87 to be exact. I love them dearly. They’ve been wonderful parents. Christmas has always been a special time of year for them. As pastors for many years, they were always trying to come up with ways to make the holiday bright and share the love of God. Home visits, food baskets, gifts for children, remembering the needy, Christmas plays, making sure widows and widowers had something special to eat on Christmas day – the list goes on and on. They have celebrated Christmas well for as long as I can remember. It was never about them or what they would get. It was always about how much they could do for others, or how much they could give.

Age and illness have limited those things this year for them, but endless opportunities to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas still abound.