Submitted by Major Ed Dean
When I sit and ponder what Christmas means to me, I reflect on the present, when I was growing up and back in time to the days of the birth of the Christ Child.
In my present role as one of the community pastors I am blessed to be able to share the Joys of Christmas with many families.
There have been many times when I have also been called upon to come along side a family where Christmas is not all joyous. This could be due to many things such as the loss of a job, break up in a family, addictions, or even death of a loved one. Christmas is a time to share and have laughter together but if you have experienced any of the things that I mentioned earlier then it is hard to find the joy in this time of the year.
If I may reflect for just a moment on what Christmas meant to me as a child. It would be a whole lot different than what it has been for my children and for those whom I have the privilege of coming along side at Christmas and through out the year.
I am one of 9 siblings who started out living in the country and needed to be bussed to school. This was a one room schoolhouse where the neighbouring farm would bring the milk to the school for us all to enjoy. That was great for the first few years, until there was a marriage breakdown of my parents. We continued to live in the same house for a time and then came Christmas.
With my mother now being a single parent with all nine of us children it would be a very difficult time putting food on the table or doing the extra things to make that would make Christmas special for us children. This Christmas would be the first Christmas and the first experience that I would have with The Salvation Army. They would be the resource that my mother would use for the next number of years to be able to put Christmas together for her family, and it was always special. Jump forward to today it is still my commitment to The Salvation Army and the many families that Christmas is special.
I do have to reflect on that first Christmas as is celebrated by the Christian Church of today. We have a young couple who are with child that has travelled far for the census. They are likely very weary as any young mother who is about to deliver her first born child would be. There would have been many people who had travelled for this census and would not have planned to have a room when they arrived in Bethlehem. This is long before the days of cell phones or even land lines. They set out, hoping to arrive on time before the baby is set to be delivered; only to find out that there is no room for them, and the only space left is a lowly stable. What a disappointment, no one recognized them as the couple who would deliver the most precious gift, “That of the Christ Child”. Would there have been accommodations made or change in plans of the people had they realized the gift that was to be delivered on that day? Would there be a celebration that the Christ Child was going to be born in their town or was it just another one to be counted?
I think back, and I know the excitement that Christmas is for me. And I think of the excitement upon the faces of the people that we as The Salvation Army, with your help, are able to bring a smile to over the Christmas season and I wonder and hope, that there has bee