I was not raised in a Christian home, but I loved Christmas. We didn't have much, but my parents always worked to make it nice for us.
While it was a wonderful time, it was never a time to learn about the reason for Christmas. We had a little crêche in the living room, but that was about it. We had a bible, but it was never really opened. To hear about the real reason for Christmas, I relied on what song and story told.
Back then, in public schools, we learned Christmas carols. Yes, we sang about Santa Claus, but we also sang, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and "Joy to the World." We also read picture books telling the story of Christmas. One year, my teacher was a nun, and we heard a lot about the Christmas story that year. One year, I went to the public library to learn more about how other places in the world celebrated Christmas, and I learned more about the birth of Christ from those books. In my room, I listened to Bing Crosby's Christmas album (yes, long before CDs or cassette tapes), and I heard "O Come All Ye Faithful" sung in Latin and English.
I was thankful for what those songs and stories provided for my inquiring mind. I'm thankful there were songs which sung about the birth of Christ. Sometimes, I feel very sad at the fact that today, children know more about "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" than they do about Mary and Joseph, or that Christmas movies depict nothing of people celebrating the Christ child, but instead focus on ridiculous family situations during the holidays, or sappy romance scenarios. One could go through the whole season if he wanted, and never hear about Christ.
I am thankful for poems like this, by Ben Jonson, who was a 17th century poet. I'm thankful they are still preserved. While as a child I enjoyed stories like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and read them to my own children, I am thankful for the stories, songs, and poems which tell the truth of Christmas. I hope that somewhere out there, a child or young person who is wondering about Christmas will find this poem. I read this to my children when we homeschooled. I seriously doubt it's acceptable to have publicly educated children memorize such poems as a class, but hopefully, an inquiring student will find it on his own.
Can Man Forget This Story?
I sing the birth was born tonight,
The Author both of life and light;
The angels so did sound it,
And like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light, and were afraid,
Yet searched, and true they found it.
The Son of God, the eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring,
And freed the soul from danger;
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Word, which heaven and earth did make,
Was now laid in a manger.
The Father's wisdom willed it so,
The Son's obedience knew no "No,"
Both wills were in one stature;
And as that wisdom had decreed,
The Word was now made Flesh indeed,
And took on Him our nature.
What comfort by Him do we win?
Who made Himself the Prince of sin,
To make us heirs of glory?
To see this Babe, all innocence,
A Martyr born in our defense,
Can man forget this story?