From the Pastor's Pen

December 2019

 

From the Pastor’s Pen…

 

The ‘Creep’ that stole Christmas

 

The Christmas season’s
a great time of year

For once came the Savior
Who brought God’s love near.

The good folks all around
liked Christmas a lot,

but there was a sly Creep
who surely did not.

 

He couldn’t stop Christmas—
though he’d surely tried.

So he cooked up a plot
that all would abide.

 

He’ll have them start early,
before Halloween!

They’ll shop ‘til they drop,
grow grumpy, and mean.

 

He’ll have them stay busy
through Thanksgiving Day.

Then Black Friday will come
with stress on display.

 

He will have the good folks
push Jesus aside.

Their hearts will grow cold, and
their nerves will be fried!

 

He will see that their joys
are spread very thin,

And Jesus no longer
is welcome within.

 

When summer was over
and fall in full swing,

The Creep began working
his mischief to bring.

 

Year after year working,
he pulled off his crime.

The sly Creep stole Christmas
a bit at a time.

 

You see, not one noticed
for they were asleep.

They thus became victims
of the Christmas Creep.

 

Growing up, I enjoyed hearing the stories of family Christmases past, especially those that took place in the years of the Great Depression. At 3:30 pm on Christmas Eve, my maternal grandfather would leave his job at the Spencer Shops, the Southern Railway’s main steam engine repair facility between Washington and Atlanta, and cross the trolley tracks to begin Christmas shopping for his family. In the little shops that surrounded the park in the town square, he would purchase the gifts that would fill the stockings of his children, usually an orange, an apple or two, and if things were going well, a peppermint stick. On his way home, he would cut down one of the hundreds of small aromatic cedar trees that grew by fence lines along the railroad tracks. After walking the several miles down the tracks, by now in the dark, to his home by the tracks, my grandfather greeted his family with a tree to decorate and Christmas preparations—and celebrations—began.

Yes, you read correctly. Christmas Eve. And my grandfather was not alone. That’s the way virtually everyone in the railroad town of Spencer, North Carolina, did Christmas in those days. Now, I am not advocating that anyone these days wait until Christmas Eve to do their shopping and decorating for Christmas. And I am certain that in my mind’s eye I have idealized those old Christmases beyond the harsh realities that in large part defined the times. Nonetheless, the simplicity of those uncomplicated Christmases seems very inviting to me . . . especially as every year Christmas promotions come earlier and earlier, bearing witness to the ‘Christmas creep’.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. I love seeing towns and homes and stores transformed by the lights and decorations of Christmas. But sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a “downside” to our protracted “celebration” of Christmas. I have watched as “Black Friday” has consumed Thanksgiving Day like molten lava consumes a Hawaiian village. And I wonder if it doesn’t somehow dilute the uniqueness, the joy, the wonder, now mostly lost, that for so long surrounded the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

Now, if you are one of those wonderful folks who begin preparing and decorating for Christmas at the first frost, don’t call me up or send me anonymous letters. I love you and admire you and wish I could be more like you! And I thank you for ringing in the celebration of Jesus’ birth no matter when you begin! I suppose that this little article is more than anything else a reminder to myself be watchful and awake, so not to allow the ‘Christmas creep’ to dilute my joy this Christmas season. Perhaps, just perhaps, it applies to you, too.

Blessings, and a merry, joyous Christmas to you all!
Pastor Mark