The Day I Learned About Real Christmas

Submitted by: D. Da Fonseca

The Day I Learned About “Real” Christmas

Chapter One
The Questions

I was just about to switch on the television to see what’s interesting there, but stopped, still with the remote control on my left hand to look at my young nephew who was looking at me intently with a grave level of curiosity and encouragement hoping that his question will be answered this time.
Knowingly I smiled and said, “Oh my dearest you’ve got me cornered this time! Did you just ask me, “What is Christmas?” Well, I thought, telling the story might be just as relaxing as watching television, and this is not just a story the child is seeking for, he is searching for the truth, even at this tender age he will not stop until he knows the truth. What an adorable and intelligent child, I wonder what’s going on his busy mind right now.
“Fair enough”, I thought said, “It is indeed a very important, valid and reasonable question deserving a dignified answer my dearest. But in answering this very important question, I don’t want to sound confused nor do I want to confuse you. Christiano, I don’t want just to answer it lightly, for you to understand, you should have the full picture but I’ll try to make it as clear as possible. Now you must please listen to every word and detail of the tale I’m about to tell you, agreed?”
“Yes, agreed, I promise to listen to every word atten, atten, atten?” Little Christiano, just four years of age enjoys the mystery and practicing of new and big words, this time he tried to pronounce a word, with a frown of concentration between his eyebrows, (very interesting eyebrows indeed, I thought and looked more attentively, they are designed like a crooked river stream silhouetted in a soft rich brown background), gives up on his third attempt and looks at me, certain that I’ll complete the word for him.
With a gentle smile, I obliged of course, “The word is ‘Attentively’ my dearest, and that’s very good, next time you’ll get it right”. He repeated the word successfully and smiled, I hugged him, told him, “I’m very proud of you”.
“Now listen carefully”, I said and continued, “It will make me extremely happy if you follow the story until … hmhmm… your mind comprehends it and your heart believes, do you agree?” I asked, by nodding his head, Christiano acknowledged that he agreed and understood what I said.
“What is Christmas, you’ve asked me several times now, not just today but the past few days. I did not answer because I don’t think I want to take it lightly, because the answer to this question I give you today, you should carry for the rest of your life, at the playgrounds, at school, at church, when you grow up at work and you’ll pass on to your children one day. “
“There is a proper and right answer for this question, but for you to really, really, really grasp the full meaning of it you first must know what is NOT Christmas, then only will you know and understand and grasp the WONDER of Christmas. Did you understand what I just said dearest? What must you do first before you know what is Christmas?”
With an intrigued expression in his eyes he replied “I must first know what is NOT Christmas”, and he put emphasis on the not as his body language also contributed when he spoke. Now with excitement all over his face unable to contain it, he straightened his back and crossed his legs where he’s seated on the couch armed with a big smile for me to speed up the story he begs, “Please, please tell me so that I can also grrrasp the WONDER OF CHRISTMAS” he ended his words with outstretched arms, with an air of over-dramatization.
“Patience my love, is a virtue, but you know what, I’ve also asked myself this question several times, and I’ve wondered too many a times, ‘What happened, what went wrong and if it, the wonder, the joy, the magic, the excitement of Christmas can ever be recovered and restored again?’”
With a smile I looked at face his filled with expressions of wanting to know more, and I continued, “You must be wondering now what am I talking about, ne?” Now laughing I continued by asking us both, but more to myself, “Can the true meaning of Christmas really come to life again? Can it still impact and touch children and parents, young and old, different cultures and nations as it did before, many years ago when they understood who Jesus Christ really is?”
With a deep sigh I said, “That’s what I’m talking about my love, this generation is missing the mark and it does not spell out a good thing. Too many questions and no answers little one.” I sat next to him, held his face between my hands as I studied his face, I continued, “can the reality of Christmas that you so much want to know about, can it beat the scepticism, the commercialism, the opportunism, even the hypocrisy that surrounds the word and the period of Christmas that once was considered to be a holy feast in commemoration of Someone Holy, and Special that came as a gift to the World, to save humanity and to love the us?”
“Mãe Tua, what is scepticism and hypocrisy?” Christiano asked, pronouncing the words very well. “Scepticism comes from sceptic and it is a person that does not believe, is always doubting even to small things that makes sense and hypocrisy is when people are not truthful they are pretending, so we call such a person a hypocrite, did you understand or you want me to give you more examples?” He said that it was fine, that I could continue.
“These, my dearest, are very deep questions and deep concerns. You might not understand everything right now, but when you do, you will never ever doubt again of the gift and why Christmas is celebrated. But for you to really understand “spirit man” (that’s what I used to call him before he was born as I spoke through the tummy as he was still growing in his mother’s womb), you must get to the root of it, the origin! Say it”, I asked him to repeat that I must get to the root, the origin of Christmas and he repeated it so well.
I read so many books, watched so many movies about Christmas, although the stories and happenings are beautiful, most of them fail to convey the true meaning of Christmas. These stories nowadays put emphasis on Saint Nicholas, Santa Clause, they put emphasis on the commercialism and consumerism you know, shopping, shopping and more shopping and people don’t get tired and go get more, spending a lot of money? That’s commercialism and consumerism my dearest, buying and spending until you remain with no money for January and February’s responsibilities. These movies and stories also put emphasis more on who is the next Santa Clause to carry the tradition, they emphasise on the production of many toys at the North Pole, the reindeers and the elfs that will help to deliver the gifts to well behaved children. “Yes, trucks and cars are my favourite!” He said.
With a sad smile, realising that it is exactly what I was just saying, I held his face between both my hands and spoke again. “My dearest Christiano, I don’t want to spoil the image of the wonders and beauty that you’ve always had and heard around and everywhere during Christmas season and the reason you’ve received many gifts during Christmas. I also do not want you to go blind throughout your life, I want you to know and understand a much sweeter, nicer and actually the true version of Christmas, if we should celebrate it”.

Chapter Two
What Christmas Is Not About
“Come dearest let us make hot chocolate for you so that you don’t become bored by sitting here and listening to all these stories. And I’ll give you three cookies, would you like that?” And his little face brightened with a happy smile as he said still smiling, “Yes, please and thank you, Mãe Tua”, and as if given the license to talk, the questions started to fly about the elves and reindeers, the speed that the carriage flies, the cold and how they can fly without wings, what sustains them on the air, comparing to the airplane and the birds of the air and so on. Quite an intelligent and observant child we have, he is one of my younger sister’s children, although he grew up calling us (the four sisters) mom (mãe in Portuguese). Back to Christiano, I thought that I have to be careful and play clever not to be caught tangled in what I do not know much about like, elves and reindeers, because Christiano is a very intelligent boy and he knows that, therefore based on common knowledge I just laid down a few practical answers that satisfied him but at the same time would not get him confused and thank God he was happy with the answers.
After sitting comfortably with his hot chocolate and cookies, happy that he could keep his jaws and hands occupied for some time yet still attentive and more curious to hear the so long awaited answer, I continued…”Do you remember the movies we watched of Santa Clause climbing down the chimney and putting gifts under the decorated Christmas tree for the boys or girls that behaved well during the year, but before Santa leaves he had to drinks a glass of milk and eat his cookies?”
Nodding his head while chewing vigorously he agreed, not wanting to say anything so that he could hear the full story, I continued… “That my dearest is part of the make believe package, but it is totally wrong with no truth in it, definitely not what Christmas should be about and by watching this type of movies of course is one way the meaning of Christmas remains lost for little ones because unfortunately from early they are exposed to such lies.”
Christiano lifted one of his crooked eyebrows and looked at me questioningly, “But Mãe Tua, how so? Everywhere in the whole world, even on TV we see kids like me getting gifts when they behaved during the year so that Christmas time after writing their letter to Santa Clause they can get their gifts, what then is the true story?”
I looked at him and smiled again, he just rolled his eyes as if saying yeah I know, as if he heard me saying “patience is a virtue” with that action both of us burst out laughing, “you’re such a blessing and knows too much”, I said, pulling his nose playfully.
“Be patient my dearest, we’ll get there”, I reassured him. I’m just colouring the picture for you to know, to understand and to notice what is NOT Christmas. I wonder if you remember the movie that played the other time where Santa Clause was angry with his father for a mistake his father did many years before, and now Santa Clause’s son was eager to take over the business in the North Pole because he was being trained and had his own military strategy in mind in how to run it, and in the process almost ruined Christmas; then his younger brother whom he disregarded, through some accidents and adventure along the way delivered the gift on the other side of the continent missing the real address but eventually helped to save Christmas just on time?”
Christiano started to laugh, a very contagious laugh while remembering the adventure the old grandfather and grandchild had and all the accidents they faced and eventually he said, “Yes I remember, it was very funny, when they landed in Africa between all the animals and they started to fly, né Mãe Tua?”
“Yes my love, I agree that it was funny, but see that’s exactly what I’m talking about, everything is put together to make it a fun and interesting story for the kids, yet again it is just another wrong version about Christmas. You may not understand now, but it is as if a knife have been pierced through my heart as I see with each movie or story how the true meaning of Christmas is deliberately removed and slowly but surely the only thing people remember about Christmas are those movies, the books, and the many gifts they received, but forgetting the main ingredient, the true meaning of Christmas. And this my dear, is not funny at all, it is very, very, very sad!”
He looked at me very seriously, tipped his head on one side, sighed like an old man and shook his head then said, “But this means that the people making the movies and writing the stories take out the true meaning and only give us the funny stuff on purpose Mãe Tua?” And the frown took its place again. Carefully I answered, “It is possible that they do not really know the true story or the true meaning of Christmas and adopted what they used to hear when they were small or yes, they know the truth but because it is not important for them to share they choose what people would like to see or hear.”
I looked at him very seriously, yet lovingly and continued, “But you must promise me one thing today Christiano, no matter how hard it is to tell the truth, no matter how people want to hear something different from you, don’t turn your back on the truth, you must at all times be honourable in your words and deeds ok? Because people will know and identify you by your words and your deeds!”
He whispered the words when he said it, as if it was a very solemn act, and indeed it is, “I promise Mãe Tua.”
“Well, for now”, I said, “let’s just forget a little bit about the movies and books we watched and read about Christmas, we can look at a few words that we always hear during Christmas time because they kind of make part of Christmas, can you mention a few?” I asked, then said, “Come on, it will be fun, Can you tell me a few words that come to your mind when you hear about Christmas?”
He laughed and said, “I know a few, Mãe Tua must not laugh if I am wrong, ne Mãe Tua?” He gave his funny open mouth laugh, revealing a few missing teeth, I smiled, nodded and put my hand over my heart as if in a promise and encouraged him to go ahead. So he started, “Santa Clause”, he looked at me to see if he was on the right track and I nodded again for him to continue, “Saint Nicholas? But Mãe Tua, Santa Clause and Saint Nicholas are they not the same person, they always look the same and always wear the same clothes?”
I nodded in agreement and told him that it is the very same person or at least he was supposed to play the same role, it just depended which movie was played and which character they choose to play it. “But Saint Nicholas and Santa Clause” I continued, “represent exactly the same person and are seen as ‘father Christmas’, but do go on dearest, do you remember a few more words?”
His eyes lit up as he danced on the sofa, excitedly ready to tell me a few more words he remembered, “Christmas, the Christmas tree with beautiful lights and other nice stuff, hmmm (he thought for a moment)… the chimney like in the movies, the reindeers, the elves and the North Pole!” He ended victoriously, as he listed them I nodded in agreement and then said, “you are so right all these words are part of it dearest and although we have no chimneys in most houses in Namibia, the chimneys in Christmas movies have a very important role, they facilitate Santa Clause‘s entrance in the houses to deliver the gifts for the good behaved children and parents.”

Chapter Three
The Origin Of Christmas
“Now let me make something very clear to you, besides the words ‘tree’ and ‘gift’ that you mentioned now, none of these other words, including the word Christmas is mentioned in the Bible. However, regarding the name Nicholas, the only word or name that is close to it we find in the Bible in the book of Revelation 2:6, talks of the “Nicolaitans” but this name is not spoken positively in the Bible, it is clear that the deeds of the Nicolaitans were an abomination to Jesus Christ. Listen carefully, I am not saying that the Nicholas character chosen to represent ‘father Christmas’ was bad, here we are talking of the words mostly used during Christmas and what the Bible says about them, or those words close to it? Do you understand dearest?” I asked him and he smartly replied, “Loud and clear, Mãe Tua”.
“But let us continue with the other terms, it might be a bit difficult for you to understand everything now, so you must pay attention. Saint Nicholas or Santa Clause as already mentioned before, represents ‘Father Christmas’ which although the word Christmas does not come from the Bible and Christmas as a practice was not observed during the time of Jesus Christ or during the time of the early church fathers, mostly known as the disciples of Jesus Christ or the apostles, this word’s origin is of different combined pagan practices that the Christians in early centuries decided to adopt in order to commemorate or celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”
“What is pagan, Mãe Tua?” Christiano asked? “Aha“, I said, “I was wondering when you would ask this question.” Smiling I continued, “Pagans are considered to be people who do not believe nor accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, most of the time these people practice idol worship and believe in different types of gods? Do you remember the word idol, what it means?” He looked at me and answered with a question in his eyes, “Is it when people believe and worship other things, objects or even people while the Bible teaches us that only God should be worshiped?” With that I didn’t feel like adding anything, I just smiled and nodded positively to him and continued to explain.
“There are different theories in how it started and very few people really stop to think about it, but I’ll try to summarise this from some information I read and gathered some time ago: The Roman pagans used to celebrate the Saturnalia holiday between the 17th – 25th December every year, this celebration lasted for a week. It was a period enjoyment to the Romans and of pain to the others, a period of lawlessness whereby the Roman law dictated and protected the Romans doing wrong things, that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the entire celebration. Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures, they Romans would go from house to house singing naked and drunk with the permission to do bad things to other people, they even made biscuits in human shape and ate this human shaped biscuits throughout the Saturnalia week. Like I said, people most of the time, do not stop to consider where certain practices originated and why we carry on with them even when it does not make sense, up to this day, these biscuits are still produced in some English and German bakeries during Christmas season. In any case, let us continue, when the festival came to an end on December 25th, the Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering the innocent man or woman they selected as their prey and overfed for their rituals. This was a very gruesome practice, my dearest?”
“How terrible, Mãe Tua?” Said Christiano, horrified, I held him remembering that he is still too small and looked to see if he had any fear in him, but bravely he continued to talk now holding tight on me he asked, “Did their mommies and daddies not protect them from these people?” All I could say was, “Oh my love, it happened so long ago, and those laws in the olden days by pagan government were difficult to fight because those people had many soldiers and many war tools. I’m sure the parents tried to protect them, people normally do these things by force, or could have kidnapped them? I don’t know for sure, dearest, but surely I am glad that this practice is not allowed in our beautiful and peaceful country, we pray it continue to be peaceful until Christ’s return, ne?” We continued to talk of peace and beautiful places and possible outcomes when Jesus will return that he was now totally relaxed and smiling again. Then he remembered that the story is not over yet and prompted me to continue.
“So during the 4th century A.D” and I explained to him what A.D. stands for that; Anno Domini in the Latin language characterised by ‘the year of our Lord Jesus Christ’, but used when we speak of dates and events after Jesus Christ time, like now. I started again, “During the 4th century A.D. Christian leaders imported the Saturnalia festival to be celebrated officially on the 25th December as Christmas celebration. Their intention was to convert the pagan masses into Christianity by promising them that they could still continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians, so many pagans were converted into Christianity during that period and brought their habits and customs into Christianity. But as we all know today from such Saturnalia practice, there was nothing Christian about it and there was really little success because people were inclined in celebrating it the original way. Therefore, the early Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, doing bad things, singing naked in the streets, and many other things that did not please God.”
“Are you still with me dear? Do you understand everything I’ve been saying?” Yes Mãe Tua, it is very interesting, I’m glad I asked.” I smiled and told said, “I’m glad too my dearest”, and then told him that some of these things will make more sense to him as he grows up learn to understand the patterns and behaviour of people in life in general, then I proceeded to recount the rest of the story.
“However although they decided to celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus on December 25th, the early Christians were conscious that Jesus Christ was not born in the month of December, but because the heathens’ Saturnalia was practiced and kept in Rome, some Christians were willing to transform the Pagan Holidays into a Christian Holiday in order to justify the celebration. Eventhough between the years 1659 – 1681, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and declared illegal in Massachusetts because of its pagan origin; Christmas was celebrated in other parts and still is celebrated by most Christians to this day.
I remember as kids, on the 07th of December every year, Mom, your Grandmother, would tell us to get the Christmas tree and decorations out where it was packed and kept until the next Christmas. As children, filled with excitement and laughter we would dust it off, put it up and decorate the tree and finally put on the lights that were the highlight of our Christmas tree decorations. For that period our talks were focused on the gifts we expected to receive and the goodies to be eaten during Christmas, it was an excited moment that awaited us and we looked much forward to it, as we would get dressed in our brand new clothes, go to church that evening and then come home, sit and tell stories and eat and talk, then the exchange of gifts. But let us talk about the origin of a few of the words you mentioned that is commonly used during Christmas time.
The Origin of the Christmas Trees: one of the Christmas words you gave was the tree, now let us look at the origin of the Christmas tree, how it started. I read that this was an Asheira (Asherah) cult pagan practice, Asherah was a fertility goddess, whom people worshipped by worshipping the trees in the forest, and during winter time they would decorate these trees and brought some into their homes and decorated them. Because it was hard to break away with the pagan custom, the Christians also adopted and modified this custom to fit the moment and it became a Christmas tree celebrated during Christmas, that even songs were sung dedicated to the Christmas trees.
The Origin of Christmas Presents: In pre-Christian Rome, the emperors compelled their most despised citizens to bring offerings and gifts during the Saturnalia in December, remember I told you the story. Later, this ritual expanded to include gift-giving among the general population. Again the Church adopted this custom and Christianised it in the form of gift-giving from Saint Nicholas to the people.
The Origin of Santa Claus: Nicholas was a Bishop of Myra born 15 March 270 and died on 06th December 343, through his intercession by helping people by handing food to the hungry apparently miracles were observed, but while he was alive he did not hold onto any title. But in 1087, a group of sailors who idolised Nicholas moved his bones from Turkey to a sanctuary in Bari, Italy and not long after that, the cult spread further to the North, until it was adopted by German and Celtic pagans. It was not until the 19th century that he was named a Saint. Then Nicholas replaced a female giving deity called ‘The Grandmother’, or Pasqua Epiphania, who used to fill the children’s stockings with her gifts. The Grandmother was ousted from her shrine at Bari, and it became the centre of the Nicholas cult. It is said that the members of this group gave each other gifts during a pageant they conducted annually on the anniversary of Nicholas’ death, on 06th December, it was so widely spread and adopted by German and Celtic pagans who worshipped a pantheon led by Woden – their chief god and the father of Thor, Balder, and Tiw. Woden had a long, white beard and rode a horse through the heavens one evening each autumn, so they believed.
Then Nicholas merged with Woden, he did away with his Mediterranean looks, grew a beard, mounted a flying horse, rescheduled his flight for December, and dress in heavy winter clothing. Again the Christian Church adopted the Nicholas cult and taught that he did and so they should too distribute gifts on December 25th instead of December 6th.
Further read that later in 1822 Dr. Clement Moore, a professor at Union Seminary, who read Knickerbocker History, published a poem based on the character Santa Claus that read like this: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…” Moore innovated by portraying a Santa with eight reindeer who descended through chimneys.
From 1862 through 1886, based on Moore’s poem, Nast drew more than 2,200 cartoon images of Santa and gave Santa a home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves, and his list of the good and bad children of the world. All Santa was missing was his red outfit. In 1931, the Coca Cola Corporation contracted the Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa. Sundblom modeled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice, chosen for his cheerful, chubby face. The corporation insisted that Santa’s fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca Cola red. And this is how Santa Clause was created my dearest, it is a mixture of Christian crusader, pagan god, and commercial idol, who Christians so eagerly and easily adopted to fit the package.
Are you still following dearest? Do you want to rest a bit, to eat something, or do you want to go play a bit outside?” Surprisingly still wide awake, eyes shining of excitement, I noticed excellent concentration for a child of his age. He replied, “Yes I’m following Mãe Tua, please don’t stop now, tell more”. I obliged and started with, “So Santa Clause or Saint Nicholas, as time passed and new developments took place, so also the role of Father Christmas adopted a more suitable, acceptable visual and character. “What is a flying horse Mãe Tua? He asked, oh my dear, according to the Greek mythology or legends, it is a horse with wings that can fly, I do not know how true it can be as they say it is a myth.”
“What is a crusader, Mãe Tua?” You have an inquisitive brain, I hope I can answer this one, they were seen as fighters for the truth or for religious changes in the old days, like Nicholas who was fighting against hunger of the poor and feeding them with food, so he was fighting in the name of the Lord for what he believed.”
“And what is a commercial idol?” Well, in this specific story they are talking of Santa Clause transformed into Coca-Cola’s ideals, became a commercial idol, he is used to attract people during the festive seasons to buy, buy and buy more”.
“But Mãe Tua, in this story I have not heard them talking about Jesus Christ, only how Christians every time bring other peoples’ practices into Christianity, not how Christianity changed these peoples’ lives”. “Good observation”, I remarked “That is what I’m trying to tell you my dearest, by adopting so many practices and customs into Christianity as Christmas, the true meaning of what Christmas should be, because remember it is not a practice of Christian origin but was adopted from saturnalia, but if we could transform and utilise it for Christian purposes, then the true meaning of Christmas should be totally different reflecting Christ Jesus as the first six letters of the word Christmas indicates.”

Chapter Four
What Is Christmas?
I stood up, took his hand and asked him to come help me to lay the table for dinner, while he digests and tries to put the pieces of the story together, I told him that it will help him so that he doesn’t get mixed up with the remaining part of the story. While we were busy, he remained silent, he was pensive as he passed on the items I had set out before to lay the table, when we finished we went back to the comfortable corner we were sat before, now ready to hear more, holding his hands together he open his eyes widely, encouraging me to start.
Willingly, with a smile I obliged to his request and started by asking him the question, “Tell me Christiano, based on everything we spoke today and the explanation that this practice has been adopted by the Christians to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who do you think should be “Father Christmas”?
With conviction that one can only get from a child or a true believer he said, “It should be God of course, Mãe Tua, He is Jesus Christ’s Daddy!”
“Of course you’re right it should be God, and for us it is God my dear”, I told him. “I know that Christians in the early church wanted to reach people with the gospel, by adopting their practices with the hope to convert them it was a probably a strategy they used, but unfortunately it was not totally full proof practice. For many still continued to celebrate ‘Christmas’ in a pagan manner, but you know what, the important thing is the condition of the heart, when we really want to change and be transformed, God helps us to, just like the few scriptures in the Bible that says that God works together for the good of those who love Him and what the enemy intends for evil God turns it for good, God is always on our side and He knows the motives of the heart.
Therefore, any believer in Jesus Christ, if they really want, they can really succeed just like when I was growing up, people took the celebration of Christmas very serious, of course we did not practice it the pagan or saturnalia way, but with reverence and honour we celebrated and remembered Jesus Christ during Christmas as the gift to humanity, that came into the world to save humanity. So no matter how it started in some communities, people honoured God during this period. Now let us try to link the missing parts on those mentioned items as to how I see Christians should fit them.”
Christiano was very quiet and attentive now, and his capacity to absorb information reminded me of a sponge, I can see he was really understanding, at least most of it, some things I know will take time to sink in, “It is a very interesting story Mãe Tua, but I want to hear it all so that I can know what Christmas really is, now I’m very curious, but I still love the idea of receiving gifts during Christmas. Shame that it is all just a story, does it mean that now I won’t be receiving any more gifts?”
“Not entirely so my dearest”, I laughed, we all like the idea of receiving gifts during Christmas, birthdays or any other time, but soon you’ll discover what the real gift is we ought to receive and accept not just during Christmas times and every day of our lives. You know, this gift is better than the gifts we always receive during Christmas or any other day, although I must agree with you, gifts are always nice to receive, and makes a person feel special and good, ne?”
Christiano now was glued to one idea, “Everyday, receiving a gift, that’s cool! Tell me more because I have some letters to write regarding a few gift ideas I already have in mind, like that ‘Ipod’ I saw at Game Stores!”
Laughing at his enthusiasm I said, “Easy dear, don’t run ahead with the gift idea, first you must understand what it is then you can decide when, where and what to write, ne?” He nodded his head still with that light of curiosity of wanting to know more and very fast too, aaai, he is so sweet.
“We now know that these practices were adopted, but the question that always bothered me is, ‘what could be the link between the few adopted items and the Bible’. And I could only think of one powerful reason why the tree is can be important for us if we utilise in during Christmas according to the Bible, and although these are two different celebrations with different meanings, for me they still complement each other perfectly and the purpose therefore is totally interlinked.”
Christiano was now looking at me with a question in his eyes and asked it anyways, “what is interlinked, Mãe Tua?” I said, “Let me see how I can explain this one, besides the body parts, ok, look at my watch dear, see the bracelet, good, now do you also see these little pins, they are holding the band and watch together and this part here that I must buckle to close the watch?” I asked and all along he was nodding as he saw my lame demonstration, then he said, “Yes Mãe Tua” then I continued, “each part is joining the other part, all the parts are not separate but each has its own function so we call it interlinked.”
Then I continued where I stopped, “I concluded that in order to make use of the tree during Christmas which symbolises the passion and death of Jesus Christ, the tree which represents the cross where they crucified Jesus Christ for our sins, complements the fact that Christ Jesus was born with the purpose to save us by being crucified on the tree which was cut in the form of a cross. Therefore, to me my dearest, the Christmas tree with gifts underneath represents the crucifix where our sins have been nailed to with Jesus Christ for the gift of life that is given to us through His resurrection.”
“Do you remember the story in the Bible where Jesus Christ was nailed and crucified on the cross?” I asked him and he replied very sad, “Yes, I remember, it was a very mean thing those people did to Jesus, I cried a lot!” said Christiano.
“Yes, indeed it was very mean, and people still continue to be mean today, but the good news is that it was done so, to fulfil God’s plan for our salvation so that we can be free, but Jesus Christ did not remain dead on the cross, He was resurrected from the dead. Therefore linking the Christmas ‘tree’ to us today, should mean that the gift of Christmas God gave us came not just to be a light to the world but to give us a hope and a future of freedom, through Jesus Christ we have salvation. We can try to make our own sense out of it, if we link the beautiful light under the tree, we get the message that Jesus Christ came into the dark world to illuminate it for us to see. Remember Tiano my love, it is not how the story is told, the Bible does not speak of Christmas, but it is about what human beings make out of the information obtained from the Bible and incorporate Jesus Christ in our day to day celebrations so that God can still get the glory, after all He created everything we use.”
As for the chimney my dearest it was simply to add flavour to the story, I cannot find any link of how Christians could maximise on this practice, because Jesus Christ as the gift to the world did not come through a chimney, nor did God need to go through one to give us Christ Jesus. Do you remember the scripture in the Bible that tells us that we do not know when Christ Jesus will return, He will come like a thief in the night, but that is the second coming of Jesus Christ our King which are told that we should be ready; and that my dearest, the whole heavens will be filled with God’s glory for all see. Therefore as a Christian I’d rather change that fact of the chimney and transform it to pass the message of ‘readiness and alertness as believers for the return of Jesus Christ, so while celebrating the wonder of Christ Jesus birth, we are greatly aware that He came as a gift to offer us hope of salvation in double portion as we await His return!
As for the word Gift, I’m sure you know that the gift spoken here is Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is both a miracle, wonder and a gift to humanity. He came to save the creation of God, to give us eternal life and salvation. Do you remember John 3:16, “For Go so loved the World…?”
“Yes I remember, Mãe Tua”, he said enthusiastically, then we started to recite it together, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Then I continued to tell Christiano, “God gave His Son to us as a gift and we should see Him as a gift to us and that we do not deserve. He gave Him freely to us because He loves us, so that He could come and die for our sins, transgressions and iniquities. This is so that through His death and resurrection we would have salvation, deliverance, healing and eternal life. “Do you understand so far my love?”
“Yes Mãe Tua, but it is so deep I don’t even think that I would give anything I love to be killed to save someone! Didn’t God cry? Was God not sad to let His Son be killed?”
Eyes filled with tear, I shook my head and said, “Such love as God has for us is not easy to understand or to grasp, my love. Of course, God was sad, but it was a plan He designed already from the time Adam and Eve sinned, you remember the story, don’t you?” he said yes and nodded his head, then said, “They wanted to become as smart as God and know everything but it didn’t work that way”.
“That’s right, it didn’t work the way they wanted, they were smart and had already everything they needed in the garden, but they didn’t realise it, like many people today don’t realise what they have and look for more at the wrong places. So God needed someone to bring this plan of salvation into our reality so through the divine and human birth of Jesus Christ God Himself walked on this earth as Jesus Christ, but this my dearest, is a story for another day, you will like it too.
Christmas, so what can we say is Christmas, this word is not in the Bible, but it is derived from the word “Cristes Maesse”, that means “Mass of Christ” and the word “Mass” means a “death sacrifice” and if we stop a bit to think of the effect of the word combination, “Merry Christmas” literally means “Merry/glad/happy death of Christ!”. “Sad ne, it is very sad how everything really started”, I said.
Christiano explained in a shocked voice as if some light dawned in his mind, “Mãe Tua, then it means when Santa Clause is saying ‘ho ho ho, merry Christmas’ he is laughing and being happy that Jesus Christ was dying on the cross for us and we also are laughing with him? Man, I want to kick him.”
“Slow down with the temper, spirit man, but yes dear, sadly to say that literally that’s what it means, and no, there is no point in you going about to kick him dear, let us just pray that God helps us and gives us wisdom in how to live the rest of our lives worthy of Jesus Christ. You know, the Bible tells us in the book of Hosea that my people perish for lack of knowledge and in Matthew 12 that we will be judged for every word we outer? May God have mercy on us because once we did not know, but now that we know it, may God grant us the grace to stand firm and practice the truth.
Now do you see how both the birth and death of Jesus Christ complement each other in the word Christmas? Therefore even if it is difficult to stop with the practice of the Christmas celebration, Christians then should use this day to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ that was sent as a gift into the world to give humanity, us a hope and a future.”
Christiano asked very concerned now, “How can we celebrate Christmas, now that we know its origin, Mãe Tua?”
“Dearest, we cannot impose or dictate to others what to do, but people can celebrate Christmas by going to church and share the story of the birth of Jesus Christ with others, share about His purpose here on earth and our responsibility to keep Him, the truth alive. People could also spend the day at home with loved ones, family and friends remembering Him and what He taught. But one thing is certain, we should NOT promote what pagans used to do during this time which is by drinking, blaspheming, sacrificing people etc., all detestable practices God abhors. But we should be in reverence before God and appreciate our daily gift of life that He gives us every day!

Chapter Five
We Celebrate Jesus Christ
“Many, many years ago through the prophets, it was announced the coming of the Messiah, that a Saviour would come and dwell among humans and rescue His people and the entire world from the hands of the oppressor, the enemy satan. This saviour would be called Immanuel, meaning “God with us”. Prophet Isaiah in the book of Isaiah 9:6-7 said and I opened my Bible to read, “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
I finished reading, put down the Bible and said, “They were talking of Christ Jesus’ coming into the world long ago dear, and He was to be born in a small town and His coming and position and Lordship would be confirmed by witnesses.”
I picked up the Bible again and began telling the story, “And so it began in a little town called Nazareth where a girl called Mary lived, Mary while still a young girl was normal, like any one of us, like in the olden days custom she was betrothed or engaged to be married to a man called Josef, who was a carpenter. The Bible tells us in (Luke 1:28) that Mary was a girl upon whom God had bestowed much grace and she enjoyed fellowship with God, even though she was a good girl the Bible tells that she had a fearful experience when the angel Gabriel appeared to her, because of her reaction when the angel appeared to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:30-33).
Still shocked by this encounter she asked the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). And the angel Gabriel explained to her that it would be God’s own doing, a supernatural phenomenon that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). I stopped for a moment and looked at him, then said, “One can only imagine what was going through Mary’s mind: In those day to become pregnant was an abomination, a big scandal and people could be stoned to death, which is a very slow but painful death. She must have probably lots of questions going on her mind in those few seconds, like what would people say, what would Joseph say and think of her? Nonetheless the Bible does not tell us in detail what Mary thought before, only tells us that Mary decided to trust and obey God and allow God’s will be done.
The Bible does not tell us if Mary told Joseph and if he believed her, but that he was sad and naturally disappointed, but that Joseph was both a godly man and a gracious man, although his heart was breaking, he decided to spare from Mary public embarrassment or bodily harm and in his heart meant to quietly terminate their relationship (Matthew 1:19). And as he was contemplating his next move, while sleeping one day the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20- 21).
Joseph also decided to obey and trust God, for it says, “And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife; and kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:24-25). Today it is a difficult thing for a man or woman to completely trust each other, but thank God for divine intervention that a relationship was rescued.”
Then I continued to tell the story from the book of Luke. In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world, this was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone had to go to their own town to register. So Joseph took Mary with him and also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. And just as it was prophesied she wrapped Him in clothes and placed Him in a manger, because there were no guest rooms available for them as they knocked in several places with no success.
The Bible tells us that there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Because it was a special and eventful night an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
But Mãe Tua a stable is a place for animals, there are no beds and pillows.” Said Christiano, and I commented, “Imagine, ne, the stable with no doctor and no proper conditions, yet baby Jesus was born there, the Messiah made His humble appearance among the humans on earth from a stable! Very ironic my dearest.” Then I continued to tell the story.
“It was a very silent and peaceful night that had turned into a very special one as a bright star shone in the heavens, proclaiming the coming of the King Jesus, the Saviour. Then suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.”
And when the angels had left the Shepherds and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
“It is amazing Tiano, the beautiful thing is that they instantly believed what the angel told them and were willing to react upon it, so they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. And the Bible tells us that Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
In the far Orient, three Magi’s were also attentive, reading the stars and following the sign that has announced the birth of the Messiah, they followed the star until they found Him, where they came pay homage to the king of Kings, Son of God, that came at the appointed time, they came and presented Him with gifts mire, incense and gold, they worshipped Jesus Christ and went their way.
Christiano my dearest, Jesus had a noble birth indeed, not like you and I who were born in the hospital with doctors and nurses to witness the wonder of life, but among animals who witnessed the noble birth Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Saviour of humanity, stepped into this world, to come live as an example and to give us hope for a future.
You know, Jesus Christ did not remain a baby but walked through the earth without sin, He was humble and gentle. Yet, with His life He paid for our sins by being beaten, nailed and hanged on the tree/cross. But the most wonderful news is that He also did not remain nailed on that tree/cross but He overpowered and overcame death, and as He resurrected from death every sin, transgressions and inequities were forgiven us and through His precious blood we obtained forgiveness of sin, salvation and redemption.
Jesus Christ came to give us hope and future eternally, it is for us as Christians to accept, receive it and remain faithful to Him as we await His second coming. Tiano, please do not forget that Jesus Christ is coming a second time and you must be ready, do you remember, we spoke about it some time ago?” Yes Mãe Tua, I remember that Jesus is coming back again to get us to go live with Him in a better place!”
This my dearest, should be how we celebrate Christmas, commemorating the gift of life through the birth, death, resurrection, ascension and second coming of Jesus Christ.
“Christiano, do you understand the story? Do you understand why I said that most of those movies and stories do not portray nor answer what Christmas is all about? Should we celebrate Christmas?”
And he replied, “I understand mãe, but I never saw it this way!” With shining eyes and a big smile he said again, “Jesus is really our gift because when we do wrong we just run to Him and pray and when we believe He’s forgiven us, we receive the forgiveness and we are forgiven, ne mãe?’.
That’s right dear, whatever we ask in His name we shall receive when we believe. That is why we must celebrate Jesus Christ our daily gift and not wait for once a year to celebrate Him, we have Him day and night for the Bible tells us in (Colossians 1:27) that Christ in us is the hope of glory and His Holy Spirit lives in us.
But remember, when the 25th of December comes, because it has officially been designated as a day to celebrate Christmas in remembrance of Christ’s birth, we may make use of that day to celebrate, commemorate Christ Jesus, like the Bible tells us, as our gift and light in the world, in that way your friends, colleagues, neighbours or those around you can learn also what Christmas is all about when you share with them what experiences you had during the festive season”, and with this I concluded my story.
“Wow, I never want to forget it, I will also remind you when you become old one day Mãe Tua, so that you never forget what you taught me, we must celebrate Jesus Christ our gift every day, wow!”

THE END

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