On the first Christmas, Mary and Joseph had traveled to Bethlehem to pay their taxes. They were among a multitude of other people who were making the same trip for the same reason.
The Bible says there was no room for them in the inn. They found refuge in a stable and in the night, Mary delivered her baby. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a cow’s trough.
Soon shepherds watching their sheep in the fields were alerted by a heavenly host of angels about the special baby who had been born. They quickly made hast to celebrate and worship the new baby Jesus. Eventually in the Bible story wise men from the East traveled a long distance to see the new child. They brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and worshipped him. When you read the first couple of chapters of Matthew and Luke’s gospels you learn Christmas is about Jesus.
You also learn he was loved, held in the arms of his mother, adored by the shepherds and worshiped by wise astrologers who went to great effort and time to visit him
This Christmas we should all once again embrace the baby Jesus and celebrate his deity and mission to bring love and peace to our hearts. We need his love and peace. We need his joy to the world. Even in the hardest times of life people have found the joy of Jesus at Christmas time. Often the simplest things have a way of bringing the most joy. A baby in a manger. Peasant shepherds dropping by to say hello. Strangers visiting later to bring some gifts.
The people of Christmas are those who are the players of Christmas. We don’t pay that much attention to the sheep of Christmas, the donkeys or the camels. The people are what make Christmas special. There would not be a Christmas story without the baby, Mary and Joseph.
Who are the people in your Christmas story? Growing up it was Mama Mollette, Mama Hinkle and Grandpa Hinkle, uncles and aunts and first cousins. Parents Walt and Eula Mollette and sisters and brothers and their children. Later my church families became very significantly involved in my Christmas story. Today there are new faces of extended family, their spouses and now grandchildren. The landscape has dramatically changed.
Years ago, I never imagined Christmas would change so much. Most of the people who I once celebrated Christmas with have passed on or live somewhere else. The people you and I celebrate Christmas with this year will soon pass on or relocate to live somewhere else. The point is this: Embrace your Christmas while you can. Embrace your people while you can. The people in your life are your Christmas.
Christmas gifts, trees and decorations are all nice and fun. However, give love, and as safely as you can because of COVID-19, celebrate each other this year. It’s always the people of Christmas who make up the Christmas story. While our celebrations this year may be remotely, use your telephone, computers and whatever means you have to connect with your most precious gifts of Christmas – the people in your life.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books including Uncommon Sense. His column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states.