A Christmas reflection by Mary Lou Edgar, December 23, 2022.
Each year, as Christmas approaches, I find it to be more problematic. When we were children, it was a time of mystery, of wanting something, of high adrenaline. Our parents were often victims of shortened tempers and having too much to do. We counted the days until school was out so we could focus entirely on the most important thing – what we hoped to get. We were threatened with not getting anything or worse yet, getting coal in our stockings if Santa found that we were “naughty.” Christmas carols played on the radio and in homes, bright lights were everywhere. It was a joyous time. But was it really? We heard about the true meaning of Christmas during Advent; we were waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But how many people really acknowledged it? People where I lived decorated every inch on their property. We used to love to drive by homes (we were more a wreath on the door kind of family). One night we were driving by a home that was really overdone. It was hard to even see the snow on the ground. My parents stopped our car to get a better look, and my mother said, “now doesn’t that beat all – I mean they have Santa Clause riding through the manger.” And sure enough, they did. I was in high school then and that really impacted me.
I was not overly religious, but I had a sense of this being wrong. It was then that I slowly began to understand what Christmas was about. Before, I thought of it as somewhat of a postscript to Santa and gifts. Now it was different. I began to read about Christmas — not just the stories that we hear at Church. I became very interested in Mary and Joseph. I thought a great deal about the message that Mary got when she was a teenager. I was impressed with the humility and acceptance of Joseph when the angel came to him.
Over the years, I have had times when I wanted to recognize the true meaning of the birth of Jesus. Other times my five children had desires and I wanted to fulfill them. I spoke of Christmas as a time of giving and that is what Santa is about. We talked about Jesus’ birthday and when my children were young, they sang to him.
It was all great fun until I looked outside where I lived. Having read a great deal about the time in which Jesus lived and of course knowing of the crucifixion, I realized about the wars between cultures and religions. Continuing through history, I thought about other wars, about genocides, about people starving, about abusing our environment and so much more. Jesus came to bring us the good news of salvation, and yet we still struggle to grasp it. So many people want power and material things. We live in a world where people often treat each other atrociously because of the color of their skin or their religion. It has been over two thousand years. Couldn’t it be different?
Jesus came to us as a child. He was not powerful, nor was he rich. He taught in stories, and He spoke about love. When I think of Him becoming human, I can’t imagine making that sacrifice and living and dying as He did. Usually, we think of changing something in our lives at Lent. I have been thinking of trying to determine something I want to do to make the world a better place and start at Christmas. It could be a birthday present. When I look at the children in my life: my children, my grandchildren, the children for whom I found homes, and the children in Children’s Chapel, I see how precious they are. They deserve a better world; they deserve to know love and peace. Let’s all work on making that our Christmas gift this year — to Jesus, to our children, and to our world. Merry Christmas!
“Glory to God in the Highest Heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” —Luke 2:14
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Lou Edgar, MSS, is a clinical social worker who founded A Better Chance for Our Children, an adoption and foster care agency that works to find permanent homes for children in the foster care system. Mary Lou was the Executive Director of ABCFOC, but she is now retired. She graduated from Neumann University and Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. She and her husband joined SsAM in 2021.