Echoes From the Campfire

That old North wind, howlin’ high up in the timber,
     The only choir that I remember,
     I was ridin’ on the line.
     One lone star hanging over the horizon,
     Like the one that led the wise men,
     As they followed heaven’s sign.
     Snow-capped peaks, like the angels in their glory,
     Seem to sing the ancient story,
     As the wind blows through the pines.
     Driftin’ along,
     To the soundn of spurs a-jinglin’
     Like silver bells a-ringin’
     Christmas on the line.”
              –Michael Martin Murphy

    “Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem.  It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!”
              –Matthew 2:9-10 (NLT)
Ravi Zacharias once said, “There’s nothing worse than nostalgia except amnesia.”  Well, I’m afraid that I can’t remember all of my 70 plus Christmases, but I will take a moment here, and you will have to indulge me since I’m writing and you’re reading, to display a little nostalgia.
    Fifty years ago, I spent my first Christmas away from home.  I was in a little country home in Pennsylvania, meeting my wife’s-to-be parents.  Annie had survived Thanksgiving at my place in Colorado and now it was my turn.  I don’t remember a whole lot about that Christmas.  I don’t recall if we had snow or not, I don’t think we did, but I do remember going out with the family to cut a tree.  It was misting rain.
    Ah, Christmas!  I have taken to heart over the years that a person can celebrate Christmas wherever they find themselves.  I was fortunate to grow up in the area of snow-capped peaks, and it was rare if we didn’t have a white Christmas.  If for some reason the snow had not come for that day, all we had to do was look to the west to see the high mountains of the Rockies.  Almost any night you could hear the wind blowing through the pines and spruces that were around us.  
    Church and Sunday School was always special at Christmas.  We had our little Christmas programs, and always a bag of goodies when we left church.  Each bag was filled with a popcorn ball, most likely made by my Grandma.  We sang robustly, and sometimes off-key, but to the Lord.  The carols I learned at a young age, and they became entrenched in my mind, if not in my heart by my teenage years when the youth would go caroling to members of the church.  Ahhh, Christmas!
    There was a Christmas in Florida.  We were too poor to travel either to Pennsylvania or Colorado, plus I was the lowest ranking person in my position at Tyndall AFB.  Since then we have spent more than a few Christmases here in Texas.  The cactus and gravel is sure hard on Santa’s sleigh, but he always seems to make it all right.  It’s not the quite the same going out to the hills or mountains in the snow or having a snowball fight, but nothing has stopped Annie’s Christmas baking or having a wonderful treat along with hot cocoa on Christmas Eve.  Ahhh, Christmas!
    I’ve heard of folks out in West Texas, where there’s nary a spruce or Douglas fir taking an old tumbleweed and dressing it up Christmas style.  Nothing can stop the celebration of Christmas or the decoration of the tree, no matter the kind.  See, it’s not the tree, nor the ornaments and decorations that make Christmas.  It’s knowing that the heavenly Father loved and thought of us enough to send His only Son that wondrous morning.  Ahhh, Christmas!  We should be like the angels and start praising the Lord, whether through song, or humble quietness.
    Take a minute this Christmas season to walk outside, whether you be in the desert of the Southwest, the woods of East Texas, the freezing plains of the Dakotas, the high country of the Rockies, or along the coast.  Look at the sky, breathe the crisp air, gaze at the stars and think back to that first Christmas night when Joseph and Mary, weary from traveling stopped in the stable.  Remember that night when the Savior of the world was born, and laid in a manger.  An infant whose footsteps would one day take Him to another type of tree; one where He would be nailed and give Himself for the sins of mankind.  Be alone for a moment with God and look up at His marvelous universe and think of that night and of the Savior.  Ahhh, Christmas!