Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… Jack Frost nibbling at the snow.
One Christmas, a parent decreed that she was no longer going to remind her children of their thank-you note duties. As a result their grandmother never received acknowledgments of the generous checks she had given. The next year things were different, however. “The children came over in person to thank me,” the grandparent told a friend triumphantly. “How wonderful!” the friend exclaimed. “What do you think caused the change in behavior?” “Oh, that’s easy,” the grandmother replied. “This year I didn’t sign the checks.”
One day an old woman was on her deathbed and she gave some last minutes instructions to her long time friend. The old woman said, “Mila, I know my time is up. I want you to do everything I say. The day I die, do not bury me. Burn me. I want a cremation.” “But why?” asked Mila her old time friend. The old woman said, “Cremate me and then gather my ashes and spread it over the grounds of SM Mega Mall.” Puzzled, Mila asked. This is a very strange request. I don’t understand this.” The old woman explained. “Mila, I miss my children so much. After my cremation, gather all of my ashes and spread it all across the shopping mall. That way I can be assured that my children would at least visit once a week.”
Christmas time may be a picture of celebration and joviality but it could be pretty lonely for old folks whose relatives no longer visit. One businessman complained. He said: “Banks never seem to get totally into the holiday spirit. My bank sent me a card that said, “Have a Happy Holiday. If You Are Already Having A Happy Holiday, Please Disregard This Notice.” Christmas is a strange time of year. That’s when people celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace by buying toy rockets, submarines, artillery, and hand grenades for their children. But certain people reach heights of depression when Christmas time comes. Memories. Many painful ones. You see the occasion may be important but never as important as relationships no matter what day of the year is. Take this occasion to remember your loved ones.
History teaches us lessons so we can learn. Some painful ones too. Thomas Carlyle had married his secretary, whom he dearly loved, but he was thoughtless and absorbed in his own interests and activities, treating his wife as if she were still his employee. Stricken with cancer, she was confined to bed for a long time before she died. After her funeral, Carlyle went back to his empty house. Disconsolate and grieving, he wandered around downstairs thinking about the woman he had loved. After a while he went upstairs to her room and sat down in the chair beside the bed on which she had been lying for months. He realized with painful regret that he had not sat there very often during her long illness. He noticed her diary. While she was alive, he never would have read it, but now that she was gone he felt free to pick it up and thumb through its pages. One entry caught his eye: “Yesterday he spent an hour with me. And it was like being in heaven. I love him so much.” He turned a few more pages and read, “I listened all day to hear his steps in the hallway. And now it’s late. I guess he won’t come to see me.” Carlyle read a few more entries and then threw the book on the floor and rushed out through the rain back to the cemetery. He fell on his wife’s grave in the mud, sobbing, “If only I had known … if only I had known.”
Make sure you know what to spend this Christmas time. Spend time with your loved ones and not just money on gifts. Christ gave Himself for us…never forget that.
Lowell D. Streiker, Nelson’s Big Book of Laughter, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 2000.
Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1,501 Other Stories, (Nashville: Word Publishing) 2000, c1998.