Ready or not, here it comes — Christmas is just one week from today.
It has always struck me as curious that we know Christmas will come every year but we try to push prep time into the last few weeks and days before Dec. 25.
Shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, travel preparations all become a challenge that adds to the stress we already have.
When I read the Bible story of the birth of Christ, the only “haste” is the shepherds who were told by the angels of the birth. It was unusual for shepherds to rush, being used to waiting for the sheep to graze.
I wish I were more like my ancestors. By necessity, they worked on gifts all year long.
During a recent genealogy search, I learned that in the late 1890s sheep were raised on the home farm in Westville where I was born. The agricultural census said 10 pairs of mittens and 20 pairs of socks were knit that year from their wool. I prefer to think they were for gifts.
Our Christmas presents have changed dramatically, but there are the faithful who still make gifts by hand. My niece, Leslie Anne, gives gifts she has made, whether it be a painting, jewelry or some other creation. I am in awe of her dedication.
Some of the nicest gifts I have received came from hands that cared enough to put in the time. From our grandson Joshua, a handmade chalkboard; grandson Toby, a shelf with the emblem of a punk rock band burned into it (the emblem is inconsequential).
My son Todd, a perfectionist when it comes to carpentry, fashioned white birch and twig frames for my Adirondack-themed living room last Christmas. They hold photos that I took at Loon Lake and are one of my prized possessions.
Grandson Jesse surprised me with a gift he worked for. His class sold pizzas to make money for a project. Teachers got together and brought in little prizes, which students chose from as a reward.
Instead of choosing a football for himself, he chose a double heart on a chain that he presented to me with this disclaimer: “Gram, I picked this out for you instead of a football. I thought you’d like it.” It could have been rusty and falling apart; I still would have loved it.
What is it about the personal effort, no matter how small, of a gift crafted or chosen with love? I’d say it shows the love of the giver. True love that took the time and made the effort.
As a Christian, when I think of Christmas, I think of the love of God, seeing the sorry condition of mankind more than 2,000 years ago and sending a little child to get our attention.
The birth of Christ must have been important because the method by which we count off our years was reset. BC means years before Christ. AD means anno-Domini, Latin for “The Year of Our Lord,” the years after the birth of Christ.
That love was carried on when Christ gave his life on a cross for the sins of mankind, knowing that his death would open the gates of heaven for all who believe.
Personally, I love Christmas, buy presents and make them, bring an evergreen tree into the house to decorate (that’s been traced to pagan celebrations) and all the traditions of our times. But the bottom line for me is to say “Happy birthday, Jesus” and spend time making memories with family and friends.
Christmas can also be a time of sadness and loneliness. Children grow up and move away, loved ones die and Christmas isn’t the same as it used to be. If you know someone who is lonely this Christmas, make them some cookies and pay them a visit. Invite someone in for a cup of coffee and a sandwich. Time can be the most valued gift given any time of year.
My Christmas wish for our readers is that you would feel the Christmas love, whether a gift, time with family, the unexpected visit from a neighbor. To all who celebrate, Merry Christmas!
One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.
Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been associated with the Press-Republican since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at email@example.com. Reach her by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.