“…even after seeing and speaking with his former partner Jacob Marley wrapped in the chains that he forged in this life; Scrooge dismisses it as ‘…an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave…”‘
Dr. Ross L. Riggs – True North Ministry
As the Christmas season begins ts slip int the realm of ‘Christmas Past’, I sit by the warmth of a wood fire. I’m wearing my favorite slippers, an over-sized knit sweater, covered with a new blanket in support of the 1-325th Airborne Infantry Regiment Red Falcons to which my son is attached, and I’m in my extra comfortable leather swivel, rocker recliner that is worn-in exactly in all the right places to make ‘Dad’s Chair’ the icon of the family living room. As a kid I never quite understood why there was a ‘Dad’s Chair’ that, whenever he was home, if you were in it and he headed your way; no comment, no explanation, no inquiry, – you just got up and gave hm his chair. Certainly it was, for us, a matter of respect for our father, (also, in part, a desire to make it to our next birthday, but mostly respect). Now I know. If your home is your castle, you might have other ‘thrones’ but there is only one from which the anointed head of the family, the patriarch of the clan reigned and issued from this place a thousand, “Go ask your mother” rulings. But I digress. The spirit of the season for me has always included the reading of Luke chapter 2 which we read at least once or twice through out our time together with a strong emphasis on the birth of our Savior. He came to face the cross and teach us how to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might and to love each other even as we love ourselves.
When it comes to Christmas movies, in a close tie with each other for their own ranking on my Christmas list are two classics, White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye is a must see. Then, there are several different versions of my next favorite, including the 1939 classic, A Christmas Carol with the infamous Scrooge. Many stars have taken on that role, even Patrick Stewart who also played Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek and King Richard in History of the World Part II – a cameo role but still played so well, (if an English King Richard can have an accent that is a cross between Scottish, Irish and East-side Chicago.) Scrooge was also once played so very well by a super star in his own right, Mr. Magoo. In all of the movie, the part that, as a child, perhaps was most terrifying and leading to nightmares, (encouraged by my two older brothers) was the transformation of Scrooge’s door knocker to the face of Jacob Marley. This was spookier to me than even the pointing bony finger of the Ghost of
Christmas Yet to Come driving Scrooge to see his own name engraved into the headstone. That image, slowly taking shape into that door knocker and then its mournful plea which, even after seeing and speaking with his former partner Jacob Marley wrapped in the chains that he forged in this life; Scrooge dismisses it as “ …an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave…”¹
The narrator shares with us at the end that Scrooge “…knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.” ²
Now that Christmas 2013 is, as the sports announcers say, in the record book; how do we propose to keep Christmas well until it shows itself anew in the coming year or until Christ has come to make manifest His kingdom in His 1,000 year reign from Jerusalem? (I wonder how Christmas might be celebrated then?) There is something special about the heart of innocence that lends itself to grasping hold of the true meaning of Christmas. This was our first year with six grandchildren, Emelia Rose joined us for the first time this year. It was watching the grandchildren at Christmas and then the statements of Aaron and Allyson that brought me to the ‘ah-ha’ moment where my brain tells the rest of me that I have just heard something incredible!
I know that folks tire of grandparents bragging on their grandchildren and I don’t intend to tell you that my amazing, incredible, and practically preferable in all ways grandchildren, numbers 1-6, (since I cannot keep their names straight, I’m planning on issuing them numbers) are amazing, incredible or practically preferable in all ways. However, it was the heartfelt love and their genuine desire to put someone above themselves is what so drastically caught my attention.
My wife and I had spent Christmas Eve night at Dave’s and Suzanne’s home and when Christmas morning came it was a time of great anticipation and for the grandkids, a release of every pent-up wonder that is so magical with kids at Christmas. As I sat watching the first moments of the scene unfold, Aaron, my oldest grandchild who is 7 came bolting toward me with a most excited voice! “Papaw, Papaw, I got my wish! I got my wish!” Thinking some prize toy had been found under the tree, I asked him what it was. He replied with as much excitement as I have seen any child at Christmas, “Santa brought my dad the back massager for his chair that I asked for; because my dad’s back hurts him a lot!” You could have soaked up my heart with a sponge because it melted right there on the spot. But my lesson was not yet complete from the Spirit of Christmas Present!
As I recovered from my first lesson, I watched as an equally excited Allyson went straight for her Mom to exclaim, “He did it! Santa came into my room and got it!” I needed to know the answer on this one! Suzanne explained that Allyson had a favorite stuffed animal, a pink ‘Nemo’ fish. It apparently had a small spot of ink on it and Allyson had written a note to Santa to ask him to please take the fish with him back to his workshop and ‘fix’ it… are you ready, so that Santa could then give that fish to a small child who really needs it!
Did I mention that Aaron and Allyson are 7 and 6 years old? Yes, at times they pick on each other as siblings often do. I can remember admonishing my children when they were youngsters and fighting between themselves to “Pretend you love each other!” So there are plenty of normal events with Aaron and Allyson but, if ever there was a set of shining examples as to how to Keep Christmas well – I believe that it is with carrying just these types of attitudes all the year. Some of us need to know how to get such an attitude of love in the first place. I will tell you that it does not come naturally. It is, however, a gift. At this Christmas season and throughout the year, you can find the answers you seek in God’s Word. If you don’t know who to ask; drop us a note and we will be glad to help. You can find us at
May the New Year find you grateful for the year that has passed, anticipating the year that is ahead and knowing that through every day, God is holding you in His hands, knowing the end from the beginning and every day in between. And as Tiny Tim was known to say, “God bless us, every one!”³