I just read how Francis of Assisi around 1200 changed how Christianity put more emphasis on the birth of Jesus. I quickly considered how modern Christians, and all mankind for that matter, views and celebrates Christmas. My next thought slipped over to my working our family tree in recent weeks.
Modern technology and what it can do has allowed people to consolidate mass amounts of information about individual's ancestors. Truly it's mostly names and dates, and we need to be cautious about even that information, especially when we find discrepancies in the data or we have first-hand information that rivaled the online data. However, what we find allows us to continue to find accurate information and offers hints to what and who are ancestors were.
I feel like I'm stuck in the 16th and 15th centuries. Partially because by the time you get to that point in the family tree, say your grandparents with ten "greats" before the title grandfather or grandmother, there are more than a thousand names. It seems like a miracle that records going back far can be found but the data often stops there.
However, as we near Christmas not knowing details about these ancestors, but extrapolating from known history and our own personal recent experiences we can visualize the differences between today's Christmas and the Christmas celebrations of our foreparents centuries ago.
They didn't have a warm house heated by electricity or forced air. Perhaps they had a fireplace or some type of fire in the house, certainly with the smell of smoke and some cooking over the fire. On Christmas the cooking was special, perhaps some meat saved just for this day. The milk and cheese didn't come from the refrigerator but from their cow or the neighbor's cow. There were no lights on the Christmas tree because there was no Christmas tree, TV shows or sports, or bowls of fresh fruit and candies. On Christmas eve or Christmas morning the children probably were excited about the gift their parents had made for them. I visualize a Christmas Day so full of joy and laughter and food and singing that contrast from all other days. Having memories of the year before I suspect the children's anticipation for that day was almost torturous. It truly was a day of celebration.
I encourage each of us to recognize the many blessings we have and to allow our minds to imagine Christmas three to four hundred years ago. I hope that your Christmas will be a great Christmas contrasting with other days of the year and that the anticipation be excruciating.