|Messiah Lutheran Church||
6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
While most families traditionally open up their presents on Christmas morning, my family wasn't so typical. Instead, we were the last ones in the neighborhood (if not the entire Midwest) to unwrap our presents!
The typical Wendt family Christmas consisted of going to church in the morning. Then waiting all afternoon until my cardiologist dad finally came home from making rounds at the area hospitals.
Upon my dad's arrival, we would gather around the table to enjoy a formal Christmas turkey dinner with all the works. While the meal was scrumptious, I could hardly wait until it was time for opening my presents!
Still, there was more waiting before that would take place. After we finished cleaning and washing the dishes from the meal, my mom would proceed to shut our living room sliding door and play a variety of Christmas carols (this of course meant more waiting!) We were strictly forbidden to enter the living room until she would begin to play the opening stanzas to the Christmas Carol, "Silent Night".
Taking our cue, we would then enter into the living room and gather around the piano and sing in both German and English the words to "Silent Night". Afterwards, we would then finally gather in the living room seating area near the Christmas tree and the presents that surrounded it.
But before we opened the presents, we would light all the Advent Candles and my father would then read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke, followed by a thanksgiving prayer for the gift of Our Saviour and a blessing for our family (more waiting!).
Finally, we could open our presents! However, we didn't just dive in and open up our presents with unbridled abandonment (as tempting as it would be to do so). Instead, we would take turns, slowly opening one gift at a time from sibling to sibling. With seven kids (along with mom's and dad's presents along with the occasional gifts for the family pets), this would serve to prolong even further the Wendt family Christmas.
When every gift had been unwrapped, finally we could savor all of our Christmas presents. By that time, however, it was just about time for bed. The traditional Wendt family Christmas celebration lasted the entire day!
I have to confess, when I was younger, I didn't like all the waiting we had to do before opening our Christmas presents! As I got older, however, I grew to appreciate how my family made Christmas an all-day affair. In addition, the way my family celebrated Christmas, helped me to further appreciate how God's people must have felt as they waited and waited and waited for the Long-Expected Messiah to finally come.
For over 4,000 years they had waited for the promised Messiah, going all the way back to the first Gospel promise in Genesis 3:15. And finally, He came! At just the right time, God sent His only begotten Son into the world. He was born as a baby in the little town of Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary. His destiny was to grow up and suffer and die on a cross, where He would offer the Once and for all Sacrifice for the sins of the world, yours and mine. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6).
And this special gift of our Savior given to us by our Heavenly Father is not to be forgotten and laid aside, as we do so often with some of our Christmas presents. The gift of Our Savior is intended for us to enjoy and appreciate each and every day of our lives, and all throughout eternity!
However your family celebrates this year, may your Christmas be an extra special one, as you ponder anew the gift of your Savior!
God Bless us — every one of us, as we celebrate the greatest Christmas present ever given! "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15)
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