When I was a kid, Christmas was the very best day of the year (because of what I would GET), with Thanksgiving a close second (because of what I could EAT)!

I was a very self-centered person until I became a serious Christian at age 28, and began to gradually improve. My parents were exemplary in every way except they did not have any Christian content to their lives or to their teaching of my brother and me.

Though the great depression occurred during my upbringing, my Dad had a good railroad job and we had all our needs met and some of our wants. My chief interests in life were toy trains, fishing and hunting. My brother and I would give our parents a wish list from which they would pick one main gift (whoopee), several lesser gifts (good), and several items of clothing (ho hum). In any event, Christmas was a great holiday, even if not for the right reason.

There was nothing under the Christmas tree when we went to bed Christmas Eve. When we got up we had to walk to the kitchen without looking towards the tree in the living room, sit down in the breakfast nook, and eat. I can still feel the anticipation when I think about it.

When breakfast was over at last, we rushed into the living room and looked for our presents under the tree. What great joy we had with what we GOT!

From when I left home for college until I married Alva and we set up our own home, Christmas was more or less ignored. But I got saved after meeting Alva and Christmas again became important, but this time including the Reason for the Season, Jesus! Now we were the parents, and the pleasure largely became GIVING, not GETTING! And why not? Acts 20:35b says, “And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Now, Christmas 2015 having just passed, as an old, old man, it is more true than ever. Whether to family, friend, God’s work in general, or missions in particular, it is more blessed to give than to receive, for God loves a cheerful giver!” (2 Cor. 9:7b)

Our God practiced what He later preached to us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16) and we are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:13, 14)

And that is what Christmas is all about!