My grandma used to keep a glass container of peppermint sticks on the TV, right under the starburst clock that everybody’s grandma had in the 70s. (Both my grandmas had one.) It may have been a Christmas thing, and it may have been just one Christmas, but in my mind they were there for a very long time.
We always went to this grandma’s house late morning on Christmas day, and one Christmas I had forgotten to eat breakfast in all the excitement. Therefore I got to have a peppermint stick before lunch. To this day when I see peppermint sticks in a jar I think of that Christmas morning.
Memory is a funny thing. I will be driving along and a song will snap be back to 1988. Today the lady in front of me in the checkout lane was wearing the perfume of a college friend. The scent of a certain kind of air freshener reminds me of my sophomore year dorm room, and the smell of mildew reminds me of the dorm laundry room.
We attach things to our memories. Some are pleasant, and some are not. Some take us back to times of sadness, and some times of happiness.
When it comes to Christmas, I tend to agree with Charles Spurgeon: “I hold it to be one of the greatest absurdities under heaven to think that there is any religion in keeping Christmas-day. There are no probabilities whatever that our Savior Jesus Christ was born on that day…” But, like Spurgeon, I think celebrating it is a good thing: “Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it cannot be in the power of other men’s superstitions to render such a meditation improper for to-day.”
For a little while, people in the Western world have to give at least a fleeting thought to what we’re all doing. Society is doing its level best to separate our Christmas celebrations from the birth of Christ, but they haven’t managed to sever them completely.
Sometimes all the preparation makes me tired. I once commented to my daughter that when you really think about it, the idea of putting a lighted tree in your living room is kind of bizarre (I may have stolen some of her joy with that remark). But I hope that this season causes people to think, just for a second, about what all the fuss is about. I hope that in the midst of Santa and elves and reindeer, in the frantic purchasing of gifts, that they ponder what it all really means. I hope that somewhere in their minds, the real story of the baby in the manger is there and they think about it. And I hope that if they don’t know, they ask someone, and I hope that they get the right answer.
This post was adapted from a post that appeared on my personal blog.