I read where Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus spent only one night in the Bethlehem mule barn. Officials from the Bethlehem city government informed them there was an ordinance against having a nativity scene so near city hall. (Now I know why the Wise Men visited them in a house, not at the manger. They had to move out.)

A friend sent an e-mail wishing me a Merry Christmas and said she had given up sending Christmas cards. She felt by not using them she was saving trees and the environment in her own way.

Not a bad idea. We quit sending Christmas cards little by little and the last few years have somewhat dropped the custom. Our reasons were not so noble. We just didn’t have the extra money to buy the ones we liked (those on recycled paper). Like everything else, you get what you pay for. Also postage keeps going up.

Through the years Jody and I have appreciated the many cards from friends and family. The giving of cards at Christmas is an encouragement and boost at the end of the year. To be remembered is special. Some are a surprise: I had no idea old Bob was still alive. Some are tinged with some sadness: Another friend gone to glory.

There are many Christmases. Celebrated or endured in many different ways. Memorable ones with the family around a great table of home-cooked foods. While others are thankful to serve the less-fortunate at a homeless soup kitchen. The unemployed and under-employed eat a little alone or save up for a Chinese buffet. The classic movie “A Christmas Story,” from the Jean Shepherd novel, ended in a Chinese restaurant.

Some see the season as a time to overspend and go deeper in debt. There are those to whom Christmas is an excuse for parties and drinking. And some people who appreciate the time in worship and remembering of the time, One was sent from God that made life worth living.

The One God sent was the most historic and probably the most misunderstood person ever to walk the dusty roads of this earth. But by word and example Jesus the Christ, the Jewish Messiah, revealed through his perfect life, that God had our best interests at heart.

Putting our sinful hand in his nail-scarred hand, and leaning on his everlasting arms, there develops within a deeper meaning and a higher purpose to life. Turn your imagination and faith loose! In spite of everything, make this your most enjoyable Christmas ever!

Britt Towery, a retired Baptist missionary, writes for the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.

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