Memories Of Christmas Past

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "What Child Is This"1 (Lyrics)

Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NKJV)

Over the years, our family has experienced many different kinds of Christmas celebrations. When I was a little boy in the Netherlands, we exchanged presents on St. Nicholas Day, December 6th — just small items, like a colouring book, some crayons perhaps, or an item of clothing. This was partly because of tradition and partly out of necessity. We had a small, artificial Christmas tree which sat on a table in front of the living room window. It had real candles, which were lit only on Christmas Day. We went to church on Christmas Day and again the next day, which we called "Second Christmas Day".

When we moved to Canada in 1948, we got a real tree, and we still had real candles. My parents tried to keep up the tradition of giving a present on December 6th, but after one attempt, that stopped, and we adopted the North American way of doing it at Christmastime. We still went to church on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The first time that I experienced a Christmas Eve service was in 1965. Forty or so of us men spent a lonely Christmas in a camp in the desert of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman. The camp manager had a cedar tree brought in from Lebanon that was set up in the mess hall. We had a nice Christmas dinner, and some of us went to the Mission Hospital Chapel in Muscat on Christmas Eve.

As time went on, we moved to different countries, and on Christmas Eve, we worshipped in local traditions, sang carols, listened to the message in different languages, and experienced different ways of remembering and celebrating the day that Christ was born. After our return to Canada, we stayed with the now familiar way of celebrating Christmas in church on Christmas Eve. But there was always the message that Christ was born in Bethlehem.

And now, as we meet together on Christmas Eve, we will again hear those wonderful words:

Luke 2:11-12 – For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. (NKJV)

And then, as we silently depart from our place of worship, we, with untold millions, will reverently sing, Silent night, holy night.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, as we worship You this Christmastime, may the truth of the gospel be a revelation to many people. May they hear and believe. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks Joel for the wonderful thoughts. Have a Merry Christmas.

    Oh, I love this! I will be reading it aloud at our family’s Christmas celebration on Thursday. Thank you so much!!

    Joel, thank you for this devotional. I have visited Meaford many times and always enjoyed its warm hospitality. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    I read my Daily Devotional each day and I thoroughly enjoy your messages. Just wanted to let you know. Have a Merry Christmas.

    A very good Advent devotional. Thank you for sharing it and your memories. Do continue to write.
    God bless, and may you have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season!

    Thank you so much for your Christmas message and for the devotionals throughout the year. They are much appreciated. I certainly join with you in the prayer at the end of the devotional.

    Wonderful? Your intercessor you prayers are so right, so loving. Thank you, and may this Christmas be filled with a whole new level of hope for the future, not only in your own life but in the future of the Church. God bless.

    Beautiful memories, and faithful traditions, Joel. Thank you for sharing.
    It sounds as if you have had a truly interesting life.
    Happy Christmas to you and yours.

    I love the thought of this devotion, that there is truly in all societies the same Jesus, born in Bethlehem, He is for all people regardless of location and circumstance.
    All He asks of men is that they believe the truth of the message, and follow Him. God bless you for sharing this today.

    Dear Joel Jongkind,
    I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for the encouragement that your devotionals have been to me in the past years.
    I was born in France, to a Syrian father and a German mother.
    I spent my childhood in Syria and many years in Germany before emigrating to Canada.
    I can relate to your experiences in the Netherlands and Austria, and living in Muslim states like the Sultanates. God bless you richly for being the encourager who you are and merry Christmas to you and yours!

    Thanks for sharing Joe. I enjoyed reading this.

    Thanks Joel, and a blessed Christmas to you and Greta!

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