December 22, 2011

A Legacy of Christmas

I'm catching myself tapping out letters on my keyboard 22 minutes after I told myself that I would be asleep. I never liked having a bedtime when I was little either.
It goes without saying that in just a few days it will be Christmas day, which is, if you don't know me very well, one of my favorite days of the year. Me and Cortney have been in the Christmas spirit since before Thanksgiving. We had late night excursions to find Christmas trees, along with peppermint hot coco dates, and decorating our dorm afternoons...all in all, it can be said of Suite 200 that we have keep the Christmas cheer alive. And now here Christmas is, just a few days away from showing up, slipping in and out with much ado, and then sneaking away to leave the whole world waiting another 364 days until we can say again, "Merry Christmas!"
My grandpa (on my dad's side) loved Christmas. He was notorious for plotting what gifts to give months ahead of time, and his generosity has become his legacy. I was too little to remember an awfully lot about him, but every year at Christmas I feel like I hear new stories about the gifts that he gave and the way that he loved Christmas with his whole heart.
 My grandpa grew up in a Jewish family. Actually, he started off not living with much of a family at all. When my great grandma died my grandpa and his brother were sent to live in an orphanage, which is where he remained until he was 12 years old. At that point in time his father remarried and took his children back into his household to raise. When my grandpa was around 18, he encountered Christ, and it forever changed his life. As a strict Orthodox Jew living with his Jewish family in New York, Christianity was never an option....so my Grandpa shook up his world when he chose to follow Christ. He was disowned. Kicked out of the family. It was many decades before anyone from his family ever spoke to him again.
After that, my grandpa became an ordained minister, loving the process of learning like the best of academics ever could. Then my Grandpa answered a call to return to the people who had disowned him, moving his family to Israel to be a missionary to the Jews. That's where my dad was born. That's the place where I can't wait to go someday to walk the streets that my dad grew up on and see the homeland of the Savior that I worship. My heritage. My history. My grandpa's choice to take up his cross and follow Jesus.
Christmas reminds me so much of him. Because when I think of my Grandpa and how much he loved Christmas, it reminds me that this holiday is worth so much more than just a commercial experience. People like my Grandpa sacrificed everything that they loved in pursuit of the Savior that the world denied. My grandpa never celebrated Christmas growing up, but as an adult he celebrated it with a passion that made up for lost years. He recognized that significance of Christmas and knew that it was a holiday that was so significant to the Christian faith that it deserved to be kept well.
 Giving. Loving. Sacrificing. Rejoicing.
I've grown up in a totally different way than my Grandpa did. I have a very tight knit family, I've grown up in a strong Christian household, and Christmas has always been celebrated properly...but it wouldn't be this way if it wasn't for the choices my Grandpa made in his life. And Christmas? Well, I'm not sure how the rest of my family feels, but I know that every year when Christmas comes around, I think about my Grandpa and the way that I want to live as generously as he lived. I want to leave a legacy like that. 

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a 

conspiracy of love. - Hamilton Wright Mabie