Christmas traditions are different the world over. Growing up in Africa for example, we did not decorate the outside of our homes but inside was an entirely different matter! I have vivid memories of my dad painstakingly pinning up yard upon yard of brightly colored foil garlands interspersed with various decorations which mysteriously clung to the ceiling of every room in our old mine house on the Zambian Copperbelt. Perhaps it was because I was so small by comparison but we always seemed to have a massive Christmas tree heavy with tinsel and amazing glass ornaments in the shape of exotic birds and nutcrackers. I remember my dad with his carefully laid out room plans all laid out on the floor with the detailed notations done in his small handwriting so that everything would fit just so and every decoration would be in just the right place. It was his contribution to Christmas!
Coming to America, I was surprised to find that much of the Christmas decorations were on the outside of the homes with friendly neighborhood competitions to see who could make the best display. The dark crisp evenings of winter became a magical time to walk our children past the different houses decked out with string upon string of twinkling lights.
I liked this new tradition because it reminded me of the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah approximately 700 years before the coming of Christ in that dark Bethlehem stable. God made the promise in Isaiah 9:2: “The people walking in darkness, have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” As we would walk past the displays it was easy to remember how Christ claimed to be that light in John 8:12 when He said “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life”
Over the years I watched my husband in his labor of love as he carefully decked our front yard with garlands of lights, interspersed with glowing nativity scenes and angels and his devotion reminded me a bit of my father who so lovingly made the necessary preparations for me and my siblings all those years before, half a world away.
Christmas has always been a wonderful expression of the Father’s love. He carefully worked according to His plan laid out from the beginning:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.” (John 1:1-5)
Blessings on your day,