Today is Christmas 2017.
For those of us who are of Swedish descent, Christmas Eve was celebrated with all the requisite foods: lutfisk or meatballs, potato sausage, pickled herring, bond ost cheese, perhaps a plain boiled ham, a pudding, and a mixture of cookies starting with the favorite of them all, pepparkakor.
Then came the presents, a lot of well chosen gifts from shopping expeditions often extending through a good part of the year. A few might be handmade – a chance to show off one’s skills and extend a personal gesture of love through a handmade knitted scarf, a piece of woodworking, or a lovely tatted collar.
On Christmas Day, somewhere before or after a few more presents were opened, depending on how early we started the day, we would have attended a church service. There the old Christmas carols were sung and a message on Christmas was delivered.
Once home again we would eat a few chocolate coins or some other sweet treat, perhaps indulge in a second helping of the Christmas Eve pudding while the old folks, and a few young ones as well, went sleepily to their bed for a long nap. Then the rest of also eventually sought rest. A few energetic souls bravely cleaned up, setting aside the abundant remains of the food for the evening supper. Joy reigned.
But the celebration of Christmas extends beyond ethnic tradition. Considering all the expenditure of time and money, an event such as Christmas is not an everyday occurrence. No one could endure its costs in physical and financial expenditures. Nor is its importance dying. Oh, there are those who would kill Christmas, but instead of being diminished by such attempts, Christmas flourishes. Every 25th of December we all celebrate Christmas.
But why? It is a birthday celebration. But no earthly monarch claims the day as theirs. No great war treaty, no Hollywood stars demand this level of celebration. No event is recognized universally as much as Christmas. For the earth shuts down its missiles, retreats homeward, opens its churches and celebrates the birth of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ.
And like the kings and shepherds of old, we kneel at His manger under the shadow of a cross far away on a hill.
For He is the greatest gift of all. He is the miracle of Christmas. Jesus Christ is truly “the reason for the season.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, KJV)
– Elizabeth R. Skoglund