Christmas In The Past, Christmas Now Poem by Rick Hicks

Christmas In The Past, Christmas Now

Boy, how things have changed! It doesn't seem that long ago, only 60 or so years, that my Christmases were so very much different than they are today.
Christmas back then was much simpler and so very much less commercial. With less than 10 TV channels, if you even had a TV, there was no constant bombardment of ads for toys, clothing, or other gifts. There were NO Christmas commercials for electronics, much less cars and other big tickets items.
Time was spent waiting for the Sears catalog, and then more time paging through it, looking for what we might want to put on our list. And then looking some more, crossing the old items off, and adding new ones. Oh, we kids knew we weren't going to get everything on our list, but just the idea of having a list at all brought some excitement. Our expectations were not way beyond the actual either. There were four kids in my family, Mom was a stay at home mother, and Dad worked two, sometimes three jobs, to keep us fed, clothed, and warm. Most times at Christmas we got one "large" present, clothing, and a few stocking size gifts.
Let me describe one of those Christmas times as best I can recall. I may have been 10 or 12 so the memory may be off but you'll get the gist of it.
The weeks leading up to Christmas were filled with getting the tree, decorating it, cleaning the house for visitors, and being reminded to be very good so Santa wouldn't bring coal. The Sunday before Christmas was attending Church Service, singing hymns, and carols, and hearing the story of Jesus' birth, and the visitors and presents he received. At our Church we knew everybody. The church was within walking distance for over 90 percent of the members in a little village outside Lebanon, and most of the congregation, in fact, DID walk.
Christmas Eve was a little different than a lot of Churches today. We started with prayers, a Bible reading of His birth, singing, solos by some of the kids (I even got stuck one year) , and finally ended with everyone having a lighted candle and singing Silent Night at 12: 00 Midnight. Yes, I said, "Midnight", and somehow the timing was always perfect.
We were told by Mom and Dad to wait until everyone was awake Christmas morning before going to the tree. As expected, Mom and Dad slept later than the rest of us and we never knew if they were faking it or not, just for the excitement! My brother and I would lay awake in bed early in the morning talking and waiting to see what was around the tree for us. Of the four of us, there were two boys and two girls. I was the oldest,2 years younger was a sister, another 2 years younger was a brother, and 1 year younger than that was another sister. With the age difference and the gender difference, you can probably imagine what the noise level, wrapping paper mess, and Oohing and Aahing were like. Even with only a few gifts for each, with four kids and two parents the Presents around the tree were many. Christmas was truly a joyous time!

Contrast that type of Christmas with today.
Today, Christmas is being taken over by commercialism and so-called political correctness. As most of us know, "Happy Holidays" are now the "safe words" to use during this time of year. What happened! ! ! I know I'm not offended by a "Merry Christmas" in December or "Happy Hanukkah" or "Blessed Ramadan" during their time and I can honestly say the huge majority of people I know wouldn't be either. Should we only say "Happy Holiday" for all these.
Today one doesn't have to wait for a catalog to determine potential gifts. Christmas (or "Holiday") commercials start right after Halloween. and with literally 100's of TV channels NOT seeing the perfect gift is impossible.
Let me take a stab at describing a Christmas time today based on a suburban setting instead of a big city one.
The weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with hustle adn bustle as Mom and Dad are trying to tie up all the loose ends at their work so they can relax and spend some time with their only daughter or son, unless they were blessed with one of each, during their winter solstice vacation from school.
Dad gets the hundreds of lights down from the storage area and goes to work decorating the outside of the house. He sees his neighbor George is putting up a few new displays this year so he heads to the nearest Home Depot or Lowes to not be outdone. His electric bill won't be lower than George's this year!
Mom gets on the computer and among Amazon, Walmart, Apple, and Google, has all her Christmas shopping done in minutes. Of course, they're all Gift Cards, but its the thought that counts, RIGHT?
Next Mom calls the caterer to make sure her menu for her open house luncheon is all set and she also orders the Christmas dinner to be delivered the evening before Christmas so it will just need to be re-heated the following day.
Once that's finished, she gets the "Fully Life-Like" artificial tree up. A few adjustments to some branches and its all finished. Looks good!
Their son, Peter, comes running in to describe the latest interactive video game he just saw and begs Mon for it. How can she say no, when the computer is still online.
Once the day before Christmas arrives, Mom, Dad, and, Pete are happily enjoying a movie on TV when Peter remembers his friend Mike telling him that he's going to be singing in their Christmas Eve service and asked if Pete was coming. Mom and Dad wistfully look at each other, remembering times past, and figure "Why Not? ".
The Christmas Eve service at Mike's Church starts at 7: 00 PM, but that is about the only difference. There's prayers, the gospel story of Christ's birth, hymn singing, and a youth choir rendition of many Christmas carols. It also, like in so many years ago, ends with singing Silent Night in the candle-lit Church. Afterwards, there is cocoa and cookies fellowship and Pete and his family are welcomed wholeheartedly.
They leave for home wondering what happened this night that makes them feel so good.
The next morning when they go to the tree, they realize that although there are many, many, presents around the tree there is also one Presence that they had forgotten about for many, many, years, but that One had never forgotten about them.
My wish for all of you this year and for all Christmases to come is that no matter how many oe how few the presents around your tree, His Presence is always with you year long.
Merry Christmas to All, and to All God's Night.

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