Throwing the switch, he scrutinized his handiwork. Christmas was right around the corner and he had finally gotten all the outside lighting done.  Everything worked and he shut it down.

Christmas had always been a special time for his family. His wife and he looked forward to it and also dreaded it. Being in their golden years, it took a lot out of them to get everything ready. But it was ok, the family looked forward to it, and after all, it was Christmas. They would continue as long as they were physically able to do so.

They loved everything there was about Christmas. Carolers would be going door to door, the bright lights displayed all over town, and sometimes it would snow. Every year Santa would make an appearance by riding the fire truck through town. His wife would bake cookies and he would deliver platters full to the police department, fire department, and the town hall. Something they did every year in appreciation for the town employees. They looked forward to it every year.

Not only would their house be decorated outside, but inside too. A nine-foot tree in the foyer, plus two more would be up and lit. Wreaths, garlands, signs, and a nativity scene would be the tip of the iceberg decorations-wise. It was fun to do and also very tiring. They took their time doing it and it wasn’t so bad. Presents would be piled high under the tree and mistletoe hung from a door frame.

He knew Christmas was still a couple of days away and they would be ready. Groceries had been bought for breakfast, a tradition they had kept going for many years. He also knew that keeping the little ones out of the tree wasn’t going to be easy. He remembered Christmases past and how their parents had acted. Smiling, he thought, “Sometimes paybacks can be brutal.”

The blessed day arrived and they were ready for the onslaught. His wife was in the kitchen loading biscuits in the oven as the family began to arrive. And as expected, the little ones made a beeline for the tree. Shooing them away and back to the dining room, his wife announced that breakfast was ready. The family seated themselves, linked hands, and blessed the food, of which there was an abundance. His wife had made sure of that.

Very little was eaten by the little ones. Their eyes kept wandering to the tree and the bounty underneath.

As tradition dictated, when the meal was finished he took his Bible, opened it to Matthew, and read the reason for Christmas to his family. The story of the birth of Jesus was read in reverence. The children quieted down and listened to their grandfather. It was something they did every year.

Then the fun began. Gifts were exchanged, opened, and enjoyed. The little ones squealed with joy. Wrapping paper was everywhere, empty boxes were all over the place, and toys were strewn all over the floor.

He watched from his recliner and smiled. There was one more thing he must do but he had to wait until evening. By that time the children would be asleep, worn out from the activities.

When the timer kicked the lights on he got everybody’s attention.

“Everybody grab your coats and follow me outside, please. Honey, will you keep an eye on the kids?” he asked.

His wife nodded yes, and they all went outside and stood on the sidewalk amid the flashing lights.

“Dad, why do you do all of this? It’s beautiful but it’s a lot of work. Isn’t it hard on you?” asked his son.

“I’ll do it as long as I am able,“ he answered.

“Dad, you don’t have to do this because of us.”

“Who said it’s because of you?” he asked.

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s really quite simple. What I do is honor the King. The lights symbolize the star over Bethlehem. The mistletoe is for sharing a love for each other just as Christ shares His love for us. The gifts we give are tokens of love like the Magi gave baby Jesus. And the nativity scene reminds people what Christmas is really about. That’s why I do it. It is to honor the savior. I will honor Him until the day I die,” he answered with tears in his eyes, “do you understand now?”

He watched as his children hugged each other with tears in their eyes. He could see the love they had and nodded his head. They had raised their children right. It was a good Christmas. A very good one.

December 3, 2020