I did. And I still am! Permit me to explain. For the last month or so, I’ve finally taken the time to begin my archeological dig into the mountain of boxes that fills my garage and also spills over into my mother-in-law’s spare room. These boxes contain the treasures I accumulated over the span of 41 years of full-time ministry and almost 39 years of marriage. And did I mention that my wife and I were both packrats?
Friends and family helped me box everything up, way back in March through mid-June of 2022, making it possible for my move down to Eagle River, late in June, 2022. Once down here in the deep south, a kind and capable team of volunteers from Trinity and Peace, Houghton, unloaded my stash.
Then the boxes sat, gathering sawdust and drywall dust from the construction in my home. I lived out of a suitcase. In August of this year, enough work was finished on my home for me to start unboxing. But I delayed. In part, because I wanted to finish some landscaping projects before the snow flew. In part, because the mountain of boxes ominously grew each time I glanced at it.
Until the Thanksgiving break, when my daughter and her husband came up. Children make good slave labor, so I had them help with moving the last pieces of furniture into my home. Then we began to peck away at box mountain, so I could begin unboxing.
My slow, meticulous unboxing continues. Since the hand-written Sharpie labels on the outside of the boxes are usually little more than red herrings, I never know what’s inside until I slice it open and peel back layers of crunched newspaper padding. Then I shout, “I didn’t remember I had that!” Four Mad Bomber hats. A brand-new knife-block set for the kitchen. A nifty wooden “Menards” flashlight received as a promotion. An AIR FRYER! Hallelujah, Jesus!
And so it goes. Every Day is Christmas! All because in the span of a little more than a year, I’ve managed to forget most of what my box mountain holds.
And just what point or points did I hope to draw from this? Oh, yes! Now I remember!
First this: for over a year I lived out of a suitcase. I didn’t touch my box mountain. I really didn’t need my stash of stuff. Food on the table, a roof over my head, a few clothes, some toiletries, and indoor plumbing once it was finished---was more than enough! Can it be that all of us could live much more simply and yet find we are far more satisfied? That so much of what we want we really don’t need? Through St. Paul, our Lord encourages us, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly cannot take anything out. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be satisfied.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
Then this: my memory has always resembled Swiss cheese. It’s just that as I get older, the holes in my memory grow more cavernous. So I’m not kidding when I say I’ve forgotten many of the possessions I unbox. But praise God that his Spirit has used Word and Sacrament to keep the memory of the Greatest Christmas Gift fresh and firm in my mind and heart! This gift our Father gave to us all when Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7) An angel carefully unwrapped this Gift by announcing to lowly shepherds, “Do not be afraid. For behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all people: Today in the town of David, a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
A Savior for you! For me! For all the days we fail. Fall. Falter. For every day we do what sinners do: sin. For every day in our life we have Jesus, Christ the Lord. So, my friends, Every Day Is Christmas!
Privileged to serve,
Rev. Glenn Schwanke