A Word to the Wise: And what do you want for Christmas?

By: Tom Rupp
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Ah, Christmas is finally here. Economic realities have encroached upon merchants’ plans to profit off of holiday shoppers. Otherwise, all is as well as could be expected. Expectations are funny things. The more you have, and the higher they are, the more you may set yourself up for disappointment. Still, as Robert Browning asked, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” So we come upon the culturally conditioned holiday with pagan roots and Christian connotations. Greedy souls everywhere attempt to prostitute the entire venture for their own ends. It’s enough to make a person cynical if they weren’t careful. So let’s be careful and say goodbye to the moneychangers in the manger. I still enjoy the cultural additions that have helped Christmas evolve into what we celebrate today. I still recognize the pagan roots that preceded any celebration of Christ’s birth and how such pagan rituals were reconstituted for Christians to meaningfully recognize. And I especially appreciate the Christian connotations that people of faith now see in the tree, the lights and the gifts. Now back to those expectations. “What do you want for Christmas?” My most basic answer to that question includes food. As a child, Christmas was the time for getting that special toy. These days it’s a chance to give to others, or to enjoy my favorite seasonal foods. When else during the year do you get a chance to drink eggnog or eat fruitcake? When else can you enjoy candy canes and special chocolates? When else can you sing the special songs? One time years ago we tried to sing “Joy to the World” in July at a church service. It didn’t work too well, although I know that on one level it shouldn’t have been an odd thing. I am finding more and more people who are less and less familiar with what used to be called the standard Christmas carols. Here’s this year’s example — “Angels From the Realms of Glory.” Do you remember, or even know, that one? Strangely enough, a lot of people don’t, and it’s been around for 200 years. Its chorus invites us to “come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King.” John Updike (who died earlier this year) in his story “Grandparents” says, “Nobody belongs to us, except in memory.” I quote this because this Christmas I would sure love to hear my mom sing “Angels From the Realms of Glory” again. Merry Christmas. Tom Rupp is a Bible Teacher at Capital Bible College. He can be reached at or through his blog at