Gold Spray Paint and Christmas
by Robin Swoboda

It won't be long before that great Christmas classic hits the airwaves. You know the one, "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." That would have been the perfect song for my childhood if it had only come out sooner. Each year we knew it was Christmas when our next-door neighbor dried out the carcass of her Thanksgiving turkey, spray painted it gold and put it in the middle of her dining room table. It magically became a sleigh for the TG&Y Santa she had picked up years before. I was always amazed at her creativity and the fact that her dog, Snowball, never snatched that thing off the table. She was the original Martha Stewart and that carcass sleigh was our signal to get things moving in the Swoboda household. First we would wrestle the tree into the stand, which was always exciting to watch. Then, my father would pull out the lights that somehow would have turned into giant bundles of knots just setting in the basement. Those giant knots started giant fight, which usually sent my Grandmother running to her room in tears. Eventually she'd return and after all the adults had eggnog, everybody seemed to get happy again and we'd carry on. After the lights were on the tree, we'd throw fistfuls of tinsel on it. Then, we would put the Santa candle on the mantel, hang the stockings from the mantel and start thinking about what kind of presents we might get. Oh, and give.

Every other year my Mother would try to quit smoking so she always seemed to get a cigarette case and lighter from Santa. One year she also got a horse with a clock in its stomach to which she exclaimed what bad taste Santa had. I got the usual?the Kenner Easy-Bake Oven, a bike, a wagon, a Jane West doll and the Jane West horse and corral. Christmases were pretty much the same over the years except the gifts changed. I started getting perfume, clothing and money to spend at the mall.

When I became an adult, Christmas wasn't much different. "Let's see," I'd say. "Dad will be getting Mom the lighter and cigarette case, Mom will get Dad work socks and new gloves. Maybe they could use another horse's stomach clock." I moved away but the traditions continued in my own home and yes, my lights were always in knots when I pulled them out. My point is Christmas was always about the presents and the decorations.

In 1989, Christmas was different. In June of that year I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. For years I had tried to do things my way. I thought I could fill the emptiness I felt with a great job or lots of money. I thought cars; houses and jewelry would do the trick. I thought "just the right relationship" would do it. A relationship is what filled that void in my life but while I was thinking it would be with a cute guy, the relationship that finally filled the void and changed my life was one with Jesus Christ.

That's whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. When you wake up Christmas morning and open your gifts, remember the best gift was given to you 2,000 years ago. If you're not a believer in Christ I know it may be hard for you to believe it's true. Even those who were alive during the time of Christ found it hard to believe that the Savior, the Messiah, would come in such a lowly way. "A King, born in a manger, in a stable, his father is just a 'regular Joe?' Get outta here," they must've said. "We want pomp and circumstance. Flowing robes, a giant gold crown and a jeweled scepter."

That's the funny thing about God. He says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways." Not only did God send His Son into the world in a way that seemed illogical?but also He took Him out of this world in an equally illogical way. On a cross, while Jesus was blameless and pure He became the final sacrifice for our sins. Oh, you don't think you have any sins? What about that big fat lie you'll tell Christmas morning when you say how much you love the giant frog house slippers! "Another fruitcake Aunt Marsha? How did you know I LOVE fruitcake?" I don't mean to be flippant but the point I want to make is we ALL sin. We sin every day of our lives. God says, "There is no difference, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24)

Christmas is the celebration of the gift of eternal life that Jesus Christ brought with Him. Praise God! It's a gift that you can never return. It's not too small for you and it's not too big for you. It won't wear out and it's the real deal. It's not spray painted with gold to camouflage what it really is. All you have to do is accept it and believe it. Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11:25-26)

So sing your Christmas carols, deck your halls and keep Grandma out of the eggnog (wink!) but above all else remember that JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!

Robin Swoboda-Wagner is available to speak to your group, ministry or at your special event. Call 1-800-471-9673 for more information.