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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas as a Wealthy Boy

I grew up in a large house with a river running through the back edge of our property.  My backyard was big enough to play football, soccer, wiffleball, and basketball.  We went to some cool places for vacation, for example,  I remember living a week in a cabin located deep inside a forest in Vermont.  My Dad was one of the wealthiest men in town, he was gone for two weeks every month because his work was so important.  My Mom did not have to work.  Thankfully, I didn't stand out with my wealth as every kid in town was as rich as me.

Every Christmas, I would come down the stairs to see an amount of presents under the tree that was beyond what I ever could have wished.  Bicycles, electric football games, a Daisy air rifle, the list of presents I received seemed to be never ending.  My sister and I did not have one stocking, but two each.  Hung on the front door, they were overflowing with candies and small toys, waiting to be preyed off the door and enjoyed.

At least that is the world my young mind created when I was a boy…

As an adult, I wonder how the four of us co-existed without killing each other in our small Cape Cod house located within ear shot (and sometimes smell shot too) of the factory whistles that lined the railroad tracks running through my town.  The river was a small brook that you could probably light on fire since people dumped their car's motor oil in it.  In my mind, I imagined my backyard was a colosseum, when in reality any other sports I engaged in with my friends couldn't be more than 2v2 affairs due to the small plot of land my parent's owned.  Often,we just walked across the street to play kickball or ride our bikes in the bank parking lot.

In order to afford vacations, we often spent weeks down the Jersey shore with my grandparents, or, went up to Vermont where my Great Uncle owned 300 acres and had built a small cabin in the woods for guests.  As I became an adult and discovered the cost of hotels, I realized why our vacations were often like they were.  

My Dad was a factory worker who worked shift work.  So for two weeks he was home all day while I was in school and if I came home right after, I would see him for 15 minutes before he headed out for the night shift.  The sound of his car door slamming around midnight was a comfort for me.

Some of the kids I'm my school were probably better off than me, others not.  In the eyes of a 10 year old in a blue collar town in NJ in the 1970's, we were all equal to each other.  (And I think if any of my classmates read this, they would agree)

I thought I was living a middle class life, but I was really a member of the lower class.

And today on Christmas, as I see the presents under my tree for my daughters, I reflect to the sacrifices my parent's made to fill the living room with presents for my sister and I, so we felt like every other kid in town.  And not just at Christmas, but throughout my childhood.  They took it as their responsibility to insure that my sister and I felt loved and cared for; that we were safe and provided with everything we needed. 

As my father often said, "Im working in a factory where it can go over 120 degrees in the summer so that my kids never will."

As a Christian, that is the wonder of Christmas.  When every possession, every relationship is viewed as an underserved gift from God, than no matter what you have you are rich indeed.

And the greatest gift of all is when God became flesh that Christmas day many years ago.

John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The reach of His Grace so we can know Him.

Ephesians 1:17-18

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people

And the sacrifice He made so we never will.

Hebrews 2:9
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

When I compare my Christmas gifts to others, I will be greatly disappointed.

When I view everything I have as gifts from God, I am that young boy who believes that I am one of the wealthiest kids around.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!