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DOUG CREAMER COLUMN: Getting ready for Christmas

Each day that I am out and about I notice more and more Christmas decorations. My community usually transforms over the Thanksgiving weekend. Typically, we travel for Thanksgiving, so when we leave, everything looks normal and when we get back home, Christmas has arrived. This year I was at home working on my outside decorations over the weekend.

Doug Creamer writes a religion column for the SNAP.

Many of my neighbors have completed both inside and outside decorations. We are a bit slower. I spent some time on two afternoons getting the outside done. Now I have to focus on the inside. We typically wait until mid-December to put the inside decorations all up. That’s a process, too.

I enjoy putting Christmas decorations up, the problem becomes taking it all down. The outside is highly dependent on the weather. We had 60-plus temperatures to put things up outside this year, which I really enjoyed. I can struggle taking all the inside decorations down; sometimes it’s as late as mid-January.

I have heard several people say that we really need Christmas this year. I have to agree. 2020 has been a tough year. There is something about Christmas decorations that sparks a certain joy for most of us. I think it triggers pleasant memories. We remember the special times we had with family and loved ones, and the memories warm the soul.

There are still lots of things to finish getting ready for Christmas. For us, we have to decorate the Christmas tree. There is the shopping that needs to get done. There are the Christmas cards to be addressed and sent. We are hoping for some family gatherings where there will be plenty of good food.

When I think about my childhood Christmases, I remember my mom baking lots of cookies. We had chocolate chip, oatmeal, refrigerator cookies and the sugar cookies. We got the chance to decorate our cookies with all the colored sugar sprinkles. There were always lots of cookies at my house. The only trouble was my mother’s two cookie rule. We were only allowed two cookies after a meal. Having to choose was so hard. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned that this is not a universal rule, but I still obey it.

We still have a few weeks to get all the preparations done, and somehow, we will all make it just in time. What concerns me is that many people will not take the time to prepare their hearts for the true meaning of Christmas. It is so easy to get caught up in all the preparations, activities and gatherings that we forget to get our hearts ready to receive the greatest gift of all.

Many years ago my little sister gave me a gift certificate for a Christian bookstore. I bought a little book that contains the story of the birth of Christ. It combines all the gospels in a chronological order and includes many Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled with Christ’s birth. The book also contains many special Christmas carols. I pull it out every year and read it as we get close to Christmas.

I also take time to read the story from the scriptures themselves. One other thing that I try to do during the holiday season is take some quiet time sitting by the Christmas tree. I admit that I spend some of that time admiring our beautiful tree and all the special ornaments. But I also work to quiet my heart and reflect and meditate on the true meaning of Christmas, the coming of our Lord and Savior. I allow my heart to praise and thank God for this wonderful gift.

I love exchanging gifts, especially if I had the time to find that special something for the recipient. I imagine God feels the same way. He has given us hope, something we all have needed in 2020. He has given us forgiveness and mercy, paying a debt we could never repay. He has given us grace, which is the power to live different and transformed lives. He has given us unconditional love, something no one in the world can give.

I want to encourage you to quiet yourself for at least five minutes a day and meditate on the goodness of God in your life. Consider the gifts of hope, forgiveness and love He offers you. While you are there, consider how you might share these wonderful gifts with those in your life who need it. These gifts are far greater than any you might find under a tree. I bid you peace as you endeavor to receive and share these wonderful gifts from God.

Contact Doug Creamer at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or doug@dougcreamer.com.