Kristy Byers

Kristy Byers

Thursday, February 23, 2012

All Year Long

By Kristy Byers

I had a hard time taking down my Christmas tree and decorations this year.  Mainly because I hadn’t seen them in over four years, and if you know me, you know I am a “holiday” woman.  So much so that I actually wrote a parody called “Holiday Woman.”

I love the lights, trees, mugs, tacky sweaters (within reason of course), caroling, Christmas plays,  cantatas, Sunday School parties, business dinners, baking cookies, drinking cider, peppermint coffee, buying and wrapping presents.  You name it, if it’s “Christmassy”, I love it.

I also love Christmas songs!  I would play it year round and I love that fact that our Christian radio station, WMHK 89.7, plays all kinds of Christmas songs starting Thanksgiving Day.  (They even play the Chipmunks!) And I love Christmas movies.  On Christmas Eve, I watch all three “Santa Clause” movies with Tim Allen.  On Christmas Day I catch bits and pieces of the “Christmas Story” while we come and go to visit family and friends.  Then the evening of Christmas Day I watch “The Nativity” which is the REAL Christmas story. 

This year a friend told me about a sermon she had heard preached during the Christmas season.  It was called “What will you put in Jesus’s stocking?” The message was about keeping Jesus our focus all year long and about the quality of what we put in our stocking. 

Immediately I thought of a song Larnelle Harris used to sing called “All Year Long”.  It was on his recording (mine is a cassetteJ) called “Larnelle Christmas” that came out in 1988.  This song may be 24 years old but it’s a great song.  Here are the words:

He braced the old ladder with all of His might
And shouted, dad have no fear
As I stretched high to store the stockings and trim
In the attic for another year
We were busily packing our Christmas away
While singing a carol we knew
When I heard my son in innocence inquire
Do we store away Jesus too

All year long

We must worship day by day
All year long
Tis the season to obey
May the Christmas tree lights
And the sleigh rides at night
Remind us all to stay in God's presence
All year long

I smiled at my boy as again I explain
God's longing to reconcile
How He gave to the world the gift of new life
When His yearning became Mary's child
Though surrounded by all of man's goods we embrace
The hope of that Bethlehem night
We will never store this blessed gift away
With the tinsel and colored lights

Repeat Chorus

And then I got to thinking about stockings.  In my lifetime, my family has used stockings four different ways. 
·         First, we when I was little, we used them for “junk” or “less valuable” things, if we used them at all.  Things like candy, bubble gum, cracker jacks, play jewelry, pencils, crayons, notebooks, stickers, fruit, nuts or playing cards.
·         Secondly, and as I got older, we used them for “needed” items such as toothpaste, toothbrush, hairspray, hairbrush, deodorant, chap stick, small change or dollars, baby powder, soap, and shampoo.
·         Thirdly, we used them for our “nice” gift.  Things like my favorite, and a little more expensive perfume.  Or other things like necklaces, earrings, rings, or a Walkman (I may be a bit stuck in the 80’s here).  Our “real” present.
·         Fourthly, they stockings became “all or nothing.”  As my parents aged and my mother’s health declined, putting up the Christmas tree every year became more and more difficult and led to lots of family arguments. So about 9 years ago I told my parents, “I will not go through the nightmare of putting up a tree with you again, and I won’t come home for Christmas if there is not a tree.  Since you don’t use the room we put the tree in, it’s staying up.”  And it did.  It actually has become a blessing.  Each year at Christmas we have a tree lighting ceremony.  Daddy finds and sets the timer, I plug it in.  Done!!!!  Talk about Peace on Earth!  But we didn’t have anywhere to put presents because we don’t use that room as a place to congregate, so we just hung a stocking on a nail at the end of the counter kitchen and that’s where my gifts went. 

As I thought of the sermon that my friend shared with me, I got to thinking, “How can I keep Christmas, Jesus as my focus, all year long.  Will I put “junk” in the stocking?  Will I put just what is “needed”?  Will I put the “nice” stuff in the stocking? Or will it be “all or nothing”?

As I took my tree down this year, I listened to the song “All Year Long”.  And yes, my cassette still works.  These words struck me:
All year long
Tis the season to obey
May the Christmas tree lights
And the sleigh rides at night
Remind us all to stay in God's presence
All year long

The last thing I went to put up was a stocking that Susan Russell Hollister gave me for Christmas at least 25 years ago.  And it was so me.  Its beige trimmed in gold and red and has music notes on it with my name at the top.  As I held that stocking in my hand, I realized that I had a choice, more than a New Year’s Resolution, but a choice. 

So I’ve decided to celebrate Christmas “All Year Long”.  I left up my 18 inch tree that I have used for the last four years, and hung the stocking Susan gave me above it.  And on or near the 25th of each month this year I will celebrate Christmas.  And in the stocking I will decide what I will “give” to Jesus that month.  It may be a commitment to study a particular part of scripture, it may be a commitment to spend more time with someone who may need company, it may be a commitment to a certain ministry or missions work, and it may be something I haven’t even thought of.  Some of it may even seem like “junk” to you, but it may not be between me and Jesus.  But regardless, I want it to be “all or nothing.” 

So if you pass me in my 95 Taurus just a singing away, it may be Mandisa’s Christmas album that I’m listening too.  (I have than one on CD.) I may watch a Christmas movie, or even send you a Christmas Card.  I may even give someone a present; after all, I am celebrating Christmas.  And I may even wear a red shirt to be a bit more festive.  (I will refrain from wearing tacky sweaters.)

May this Remind us all to stay in God's presence All year long!