The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 3, 2013

Christmas much more than gifts

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— Do you give and receive gifts at Christmas? Think about those gifts.

For the little ones who believe in Santa Claus, this is a glorious time. They have such strong beliefs that they will get just what they requested. They believe!

My little nephew recently asked me if I really believed there was a Santa Claus. He is at the age where he and his little friends are beginning to see through the ‘coming down the chimney’ stories and questioning Santa’s appearance from October to Christmas in every mall and on television. My answer to him was that I couldn’t prove whether St. Nick really existed or not, but that every year I hang up a sock and every year there is something in it, so I  never take a chance. Santa always calls at our house.

When I was a little girl we wrote letters to Santa and then after Mother proofread them to make sure we made a good impression on Santa, we folded them neatly, and opening the door of the wood stove, we threw our letters in so they would go to the “North Pole.”  We didn’t ask for everything under the sun. There was no television to convince us we needed the latest toy or gimmick. We were perfectly content with a doll or one toy. Many years I just got a dress for the doll I already had. I was always pleased and amazed that Santa brought a doll dress made from the same material as my new Christmas dress Mother had made. But I never questioned Santa or how he knew. After all, he knew if we had been naughty or nice, so apparently he also knew about my new blue dress too.

As we got older and finally figured out (or admitted) who Santa really was, we got to help BE Santa. We got to stay up late and sneak the packages under the tree and eat the cookies and milk we  had left out for Santa to enjoy. I guess since we WERE Santa, we got to eat those cookies. We placed hay  near the front door for the reindeer before anyone went to bed, and then scattered the hay all around after the little kids had gone to sleep. They  really believed those deer had a feast during Santa’s stop. Being Santa was as much fun, if not more fun, than believing in the mystery of his existence.   

As we grow older, we do have our doubts about Santa’s gifts, but we never doubt the spirit of Christmas and the greatest gift of all Christmas gifts — our Savior. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. What a gift!

God is a giving God. He gave life to Adam and Eve, and a glorious garden in which to live. He  gave manna to the children of Israel, and leadership to Moses and  Joshua. He, through Christ, gave “living water” to the woman at the well, and sight to the blind. He gave strength to crippled legs, and hearing to the man  who had none. What gifts!

Even today, God gives rain to the thirsty ground and sunshine to the flowers and plants. He gives harvests to the farmers and wisdom to the scientists. What gifts! He gives us air to breathe, and a mind with which to think and reason. He gives us hands to use freely, and feet on which to walk. We have eyes to see His beautiful creation and ears to hear the sweet voices of children and music.  

God has given us comfortable homes and loving parents, our churches and ministers, and those to help us in the decisions we make in life. What gifts we receive daily!

Is this not Christmas all year long? What are we giving in return?  

Christmas is not just a day or a season, but a condition of our hearts and minds. If we love our neighbor as ourselves; if in our riches we are poor in spirit and in our poverty we are rich in grace; if our charity does not boast in itself, but is kind; if each day dawns in opportunity and sets in achievement, however small — then every day is Christ’s day and Christmas is always near. What gifts!

I hope we have moved beyond only wanting things at Christmas. I’ll be the first to tell you that I love receiving presents. Getting together as a family is pure joy. I just love the sights and sounds and aromas of the season. But I have also learned that there is much more to a Christmas celebration than just presents.  The “presence” of Christ is the most important aspect of the season. It is the reason for the season.

I am so impressed with the Charitable Market of Blessings that was sponsored by Central Christian Church and others this year. There were beautiful handmade crafts and baked goods for sale, with the proceeds going to a special charity of one’s choice. Many charitable organizations set up information booths to tell of their needs and involvement in the community. The concept was that the gift giver make a charitable donation to a needy cause rather than purchase another tie or sweater for someone, or buy another something to set around the house that needs dusting.  Every penny goes to a charitable organization or to a special mission need. To me, this is the true meaning of Christmas. What gifts!

Several years ago our friend, Gini, told us of this wonderful casserole. If you  use left-over chicken or turkey, no one would ever know, because this casserole is wonderful. I am going to make it for a special Christmas dinner. It will be easy to serve with a cranberry/apple salad and hot rolls and chocolate/pecan pie that can be made ahead of time. Here is Gini’s recipe repeated by request.  

Gini’s Glorified

Chicken Casserole

4 cups cooked and cubed chicken

16 ounces  sour cream

1 or 2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 package cornbread stuffing mix

Place cooked chicken in bottom of 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread on the sour cream. Then pour on the chicken soup and spread evenly. Make stuffing as directed on package. Add a tad of sugar if you like your stuffing sweeter. Spread over soup. Bake in 350-degree oven until heated throughout.  Yum yum and so easy! What a gift!

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.