Funny how many times we don’t understand what our parents did for us behind the scenes until we are grown. I remember - vividly - my mom saying, more than once, “You never pay for your own raising ‘til you have kids of your own.” Christmastime always reminds me of many of those things.

I remember how sometimes dad didn’t seem too excited at the thought of getting the house decorated for Christmas. I don’t remember him going with us to buy a Christmas tree. That was mom’s assignment. I was in high school before we owned an artificial tree. As a kid, I remember the excitement as we’d head to one of our local grocery stores to find the perfect tree. I also remember one of my older brothers holding a tree up for scrutiny - and having mom say of the obvious flat portion, “We’ll just turn that side to the wall and no one will ever see it.”

I know now that mom just wanted to get it and get home.

We’d get home with the tree, anxious to get all of the decorations on it, but knowing we couldn’t do THAT ‘til dad had the lights in place. He would tell us that the tree needs to “settle” so that the limbs would have a chance to spread out before putting the lights on it. It was agonizing, having to wait for those goofy limbs to fall into place. But finally they would, and Dad would begin his holiday labor, putting the lights on with perfection. And then we’d get to do OUR work, putting each ornament in the perfect place, then tossing those little aluminum-strip icicles onto the ends of the branches. It was truly a work of art.

As an adult, with kids of my own, I began to better understand why dad sometimes seemed less than excited about the decorating process. Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas. And I love Christmas decorations. I even enjoy the decorating process - for the most part. But there are parts of that process that cause me to sometimes procrastinate.

I often teach that one of Satan’s goals in the life of a Christian is to steal our joy. Therefore, I’m thinking that he had something to do with the invention of those miniature lights I wrestle with every year. You probably know what I’m talking about. They’re working when I take them OFF the tree at the end of the season. Taking no chances, I check them BEFORE I put them on this year’s tree, and they again are in proper working order. But then I put those motor-scooters on the tree and plug ‘em in - and notice that one of the strands - usually somewhere in the middle of the mix - is now dark. Argghhh.

But in a few days, I’ll do it all again. It’s all part of the celebration we Christians enjoy - realizing that those lights, when working, in a very small way, remind us of the light Jesus brought to the world - and to us.

Life’s an adventure. I’m livin’ it up!!!

Randy McLelland, a.k.a. Randy Mac, is senior pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship Church on FM 202. He plays the role of "Grandpa" in The Promise and, through his “Livin' It Up” ministries, is a motivational speaker and Christian entertainer. He can be reached at randymac@randymac.com or (817) 454-3386. His web address is randymac.com.