Growing up in the city of Ibadan, left me with some interesting childhood memories that make me smile always when I remember them. And every year till I finished secondary school, Christmas was always relishing as we traveled down to Ijebu Ode to spend the holidays along with my brothers and sisters.
I remember Dad packing our gear into his Datsun Laurel, and loading us into the car and driving down to Ijebu Ode listening to Sunny Ade or Ebenezer Obey on the car radio as we drove down. Or times, he would send his driver down in his official Brown Peugeot 504 to bring us to Ijebu ode if he could not take time off as a Bank Manager at Union Bank.
I recall listening to Boney M’s Christmas Carol cassette back to back all day and also one other cathedral carol cassette I can’t readily recall. I remember the jingles on radio and TV for Father Christmas, The Father Christmas Grotto, the different carol songs played on TV and Radio, the greetings and above all the blistering dry cold wind of the harmattan season. I recall the childhood adaptation of Christmas carols…based on our understanding then lol! And the daydream of the rice and chicken to devour!!!
I was recently in a conversation with my Eldest Brother, and we got around to Christmas Celebration and I asked him, “What was it about Christmas when we were growing up that made it so unique and special?” His response was two-fold, 1. Dad made a lot of sacrifices to ensure the Christmas celebration was memorable every year and 2. the economic condition then was quite tenable unlike now. And as I pondered on it, I realized indeed, Dad and several in his generation, went a long way to make Christmas memorable for us growing up. The whole family coming together, the Christmas decoration within and around the home, the sound of Chickens been fattened for the pot, the sharing of gifts, food and fun! And not only that, the new Christmas clothes, shoes and accessories. It was all a memorable year in year out!
So does all these make Christmas special? No, it does not, but it sure adds color to it. So what makes it special?
To know what makes Christmas special, I think it’s pertinent for us to know, the essence of the Christmas season itself. Why Christmas? Why the celebration?
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Although, historically and according to records, he was born during summer and not during the winter season as we are wont to celebrate. And what is so special about his birth? What is so significant that we celebrate and make merry year in year out?
Let’s take a general look at all the Christmas carols/songs…they sing about a special child, born in a lowly manger, a born King that the angels heralded his coming, and the prophets prophesied of old. They sing about love, joy, and peace to mankind by virtue of the birth of this child…
Isa 9:6-7 NIV
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 Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7Of 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.
Without wanting to deliberate too much, we can say that the Christmas season is the celebration of the birth of The King! He is not an ordinary King, but a King with a mission to save and deliver the world and for him to establish his authority over the whole earth…His Kingdom continually expanding.
Have you ever seen the arrival of a head of state/government of a great nation? He/She is heralded by great fanfare, display and what have you that makes it so spectacular, special, unique and powerful!!! The man Jesus the Christ, does not need an advance team or preparation to do as we are wont in today’s diplomatic practice. He expects us, to herald the glad tidings of what he has come to do to the whole wide world! Which brings us to the very essence of this season. Beyond the fanfare, the merriment, and joyous celebration…is an underlying message of hope, redemption, and salvation. That is what makes Christmas special.
Without the birth of Jesus, there could be no death and resurrection. His birth foretold from the Garden of Eden after the fall of Man and re-enforced severally in the scriptures till it came to pass. Yes he died and resurrected and he is coming to establish His reign on the earth, his birth gives us the hope we need to march on in this world as it is. His death and resurrection, reminds us of the supreme sacrifice he made, for us to be reconciled with God and partake with him as joint heirs in God’s Kingdom.
Christmas is so special for it’s then the hope of the world was birthed, a rainbow in the midst of world’s storms, a light at the end of a dark tunnel, God’s redemption plan unveiled. As the birth of a child brings joy, so also is the birth of Christ, a constant joy with the attendant messages of love, joy, peace, and hope.
So folks, make this Christmas special and memorable to everyone around you. Remember the essence of this season and the message it shares. You and I, can make a whole lot of difference in our world if we simply live and share the message of Christ, this Christmas season. As the scriptures rightly say in Colossians 1:27, “…Christ in you…the hope of glory.”