By RENEE FITE
Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and families like Charles and Michelle Deason embrace it with love and togetherness.
“First, it’s the birth of Christ,” Michelle said. “It means time to spend with family, it brings family together, and family gatherings, a time of gift-giving, generosity and traditions.”
They started their own traditions when they had kids. Their daughter, Taylor, is an eighth-grader at Tahlequah Middle School
“We open presents Christmas morning, then visit different families throughout the day,” said Charles. “Christmas eve for the past decade we’ve celebrated with friends, family and my business partner. Our Christmas is here, Christmas morning, with a big breakfast.”
Cooking it is a family affair, Michelle said. It varies from a breakfast casserole or breakfast burritos, to French toast,
“And it always includes gravy, biscuits and gravy,” Charles said.
Christmas is special, Taylor said.
“It’s a time family gets to spend together; make memories of good times with your family,” Taylor said. “And a time to be with friends during the break from school.”
Thursday evening, Taylor’s friend, Jordan Phillips, was visiting.
“I like decorating the tree with my sisters,” Jordan said.
She has six sisters and two trees.
“Christmas is about the birth of Christ,” Jordan said.
Each year, the Deasons decorate family stockings, including one for the dog, Watson Deason.
This year is especially dear to the Deasons, whose son, Kyle, is a senior at Tahlequah High School. Michelle said she insisted they all decorate the tree together, since it was their last Christmas with Kyle still living at home.
“I made sure we were all at home,” she said.
Christmas means so much to so many, but to describe Christmas in one word, it could be “hope.”
“Christmas means hope,” said Lela Stowers.
Christmas is a wonderful time to slow down and remember what is important in life, said Matt Rader.
“[It’s important to remember] the inherent goodness in people’s hearts,” said Rader. “And to not only share your own goodwill, but be able to graciously receive it, as well, when a loved one or someone else wishes to grant you the most wonderful gift of all, love from their heart.”
Christmas is the time when we most clearly see the grace of God, said Jan Condren, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.
“It is a time when God comes to us not with booming thunder and lightning, not with military force, but as a tiny child, completely helpless,” Condren said.
God chose to bring this great gift not through kings or other rulers, but through a young peasant couple in a backwater province, in a town where they could not find a room, Condren said.
“God turns upside down all of our understandings of what power is,” Condren said.
“No matter how much we may obscure that message with commercialism, the celebration of Christmas always comes down to a celebration of God’s love and grace. From little children marveling at lights and presents, to adults preparing special meals and showering children and grandchildren with presents, we celebrate a God who gave us the wonderful gift of unending love.”
Christmas means a precious time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, said Donna Tinnin.
“There is a nativity scene in almost every room of my house just to keep as a reminder of what Christmas is really all about!” Tinnin said. “I try hard not to lose the real purpose of Christmas!”
Keeping the focus of Christmas on the birth of the Christ child is important to many, who look to keep the emphasis is on the religious aspect of the time.
“Christmas is a time to celebrate Christ’s birth. The giving of gifts represents the greatest gift ever given to mankind by Christ,” said Cindy Farmer
Caring for others, family, friends or strangers gives meaning to Christmas. Sharing a smile, lending a hand, dropping money into the Salvation Army bell ringers red buckets. Some people give all year around of their time and talents, while many only give during the holiday season.
“Christmas is about giving and caring,” said Jessina Brown, “mostly caring.”
Kari Flannigan, a nurse, knows all about caring and giving.
“We commercialize so much anymore, many kids don’t even know what Christmas is really about,” she said. “Gifts that matter are those that are thoughtful. I treasure the hand-made dolls from my grandmother. I still have them. With my children, we make homemade ornaments every year.”
Baking a birthday cake for Jesus helps some parents explain the reason for the season. To help her children when they were young, Pamara Lamb began baking a birthday cake for Jesus.
“I think the children understand more. It started because none of my children seemed to know why we have Christmas,” Lamb said. “They seemed to understand a cake was to celebrate a birthday.”