Joy to the World
I grew up in a home that magnified Christmas on multiple fronts. We rarely missed church, so we enjoyed the transition from the regular hymns to the songs we sang only once a year. “Joy to the World” remains my favorite. We usually saw a presentation of the Christmas story in some simple manner as the celebration of Jesus’ birth approached.
I will never forget the magic of Christmas morning. Many years after I knew the real reason for the season, I still had a hard time getting to sleep on Christmas Eve, as I anticipated receiving the gift I had requested after wearing the pages of the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogues thin. I still own the Lionel train and Hot Wheels track that I found waiting for me on a Christmas morning. My parents always made sure that all four of their children were loved and blessed at all times – including Christmas.
Our extended family alternated meeting on Christmas Eve and at Christmas noon between the Funkhousers and the Stephensons. Both grandparents’ homes were small. I still don’t know how each extended family survived with only one bathroom available. Food was sumptuous and abundant. I always went back for seconds. It was so much fun to play with my cousins and interact with my aunts and uncles. In my young mind, all was well with the world.
When Nancy and I married, we continued the strong traditions we both enjoyed while growing up. We cut our first Christmas tree from a mountain on one of my parent’s farms. Our eyes were bigger than our garage apartment. The cedar tree filled much of the bottom floor. We decorated it while listening to Evie sing “Come On, Ring Those Bells” on the stereo. I will never forget walking together one silent night in the snow that muffled the earth. In our young married minds, all was well with the world.
The expansion of our family to include Jason and Lynn enhanced our enjoyment of Christmas. We became the parents who supplied direction to the annual celebration. Multiple years we prepared a December calendar that listed a seasonal activity for every day. We spent plenty of time at church and at home celebrating the hope that Jesus brings. We developed traditions of our own that continue to this day. I look forward to the Cornish hens!
I am seasoned enough to know that all is not well with the world. In reality, it never was. Yet, this Christmas we will again celebrate the only hope for the world - Jesus.
Joy to the World!