Tag Archives: christmas

Santa Claus for Christians

What to do with this image?

Christian Confession:  I Like Santa 

 I have been working for the better part of my professional career in distinctively Christian organizations. I’ll call it vocational ministry. In my jobs I’ve enjoyed working with gracious, unselfish people. My jobs have been overwhelmingly positive, but not without some stumbles and quirks.

Here and there I’ve seen a few controversies emerge from “differences of opinion.” There are some big things to get worked up about, e.g., deity of Jesus, authority of Scripture, one omniscient God, and other major tenets of the Christian faith.  – – – Schisms, Diets, Councils, and Wars have famous names because of the big controversies.

There are other things. In my experience, there have been plenty of other things. I can tell you stories that would make you laugh and stories that you cause you to drop your chin and shake your head. (Like the family that left a church because the pastor used The Wizard of Oz as an analogy in his sermon.) I’ve got more, but that’s another day.

Tis the season to poke-a-stick at Santa Claus. For some the jolly fat man is completely innocuous, like Garfield the cat or Dennis the Menace, while for others he has become a cultural annoyance. And then there are the haters. “We don’t allow any pictures of Santa Claus in our building,” stated one Christian friend, and he said it with conviction and shoulders squared against such worldliness. “We don’t believe in Santa Claus!?!”  You’ve heard it, and you may have heard it from me somewhere in the past. But I’ve flop-flopped on the issue.  Continue reading Santa Claus for Christians

December in Altus, America

Snow is falling on this chilly fall night, causing me to shift gears from Thanksgiving clean-up to Christmas preparations. Amy Grant will sing about a “Tender Tennessee Christmas”. Those boys from Alabama serenade us with “Christmas in Dixie.” Becky Hobbs will sing the song she penned, “Oklahoma Christmas”.  The rest of us enjoy singing our favorite Christmas carols at church over the next few weeks, counting down to the day we celebrate the birth of Christ.

The song that will best describe me this year is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” . . . if only in my dreams. My husband and I established our home in rural Indiana shortly after tying the knot at Tulsa in 1988. Even though I am very happy here, Southwestern Oklahoma will always hold a special place in my heart. With that in mind, it’s time for another visit to the red dirt area of Altus – even if it’s only in my dreams.  (Cue the wavy screen effect)

So, what is so special about Altus this time of year? Too many memories for me to recount here, instead let’s take a peek at some of the current Christmas celebrations happening this month.

Jimmy Geigle has organized the 3rd annual Toy Run for motorcyclist this year. It is scheduled to take place Saturday, December 1 at 12:30 pm. Riders from across the state will join the run with a parade escort to deliver toys to the Altus Fire Department. The toys will be distributed by the Salvation Army and DHS.  Folks around Altus are generous to a fault, but it never ceases to amaze me when the pictures from the Toy Run are posted. Many of the motorcycles look like they are carrying the entire contents of Santa’s sleigh!

The annual Christmas Parade steps off from the parking lot of Western Oklahoma State College. on Sunday, December 2, at 3 p.m., Complete with a police escort, marching bands, floats, and of course, Santa’s grand arrival via Altus Fire Truck, the parade is a ton of fun for people of all ages. While the Altus Times reports this as the 32nd annual Christmas Parade, it has been going on for much longer. From watching it as a child, sometimes perched on Papa’s shoulders, to riding a motorcycle in the parade for several years during the 1970s, memories of the Christmas parade fill my mind with happiness untold.

Christmas would not be Christmas without cantatas and candle-lit services. Tabernacle Baptist Church will present a cantata on Sunday, December 16. Southside Baptist Church will share their cantata on Sunday morning, December 23. Emmanuel Baptist Church will celebrate the Reason for the Season with a candle-light service on Christmas Eve. A quick google search gave the above information – there are probably other churches in town with their own Christmas celebrations. Take time this season to remember that Christ’s birth is the reason for the season.

The Christmas lights of Altus shine brightly this time of year. Families and businesses deck the halls with many gorgeous displays, making a drive thru town at night a festive affair. Nothing, however, can top the “Christmas in the Park” display at the Altus City Park, located on East Broadway, between Park Lane and Park Avenue. The park becomes a magical mix of vision, love, labor and lights, a tradition that began around thirty years ago, with the vision of Sonny Tims and a handful of other longtime Altusans.

Rumors abound that this could be the last year for the lights, due to vandalism. Thanks to a handful of dedicated elves, this year’s show is now in progress nightly. Park your car or truck at the Altus High School parking lot, and take a stroll thru the park. Enjoy the work of the elves as you gaze at the lighted Christmas trees and animated displays while creating some new memories for you and your family.

Before or after enjoying these treats that Altus has to offer during December, take time to patronize some of the locally owned businesses and restaurants. Some favorite stops along the way are the Sunshine Café and Roberts’ Drive-In (which is now a sit-in diner) on East Broadway. The Grapevine Café or Benny’s Pizza & Mexican Restaurant on North main are also quite tasty. To finish off your shopping list, visit Petal Pushers, Scott Farms (for your “Made In Oklahoma” gifts) or the Sandyland Vineyard.

(Cue the wavy screen effect)

Looks like I have been off in dreamland way too long now. It is time to get bundled up, go outside and shovel some snow. Wonder if I’ll see some Christmas lights out there?



Jimmy Geigle





A Christmas Story… gone wrong?

Christmas 1962 - I was in the first grade

Looking Back on Christmas

December, 1962 – It was cold, but we played outside anyway. Playing indoors seemed like punishment. We had a routine; we under estimated the cold and over estimated our fortitude. Running, climbing, and making up games was the good life — right up until our ears and fingers hurt too much to play on. My little brother and I would reach our breaking point and go back inside, but not to stay. Mom would rub our fingers and put her warm hands on our ears. Then she gave us another layer and let us go right back outside.

In December of 1962 I was six years old and don’t remember a whole lot. But the memories I do have are quite vivid. My dad was in a job transition. He was attending Barber College in downtown Oklahoma City. He had moved us from the oil fields of west Texas through a short layover in Kingman, Kansas. Dad, Mom, my little brother Darren and an 8 month old sister, Danyne and I all lived in a tiny duplex around 50th and Lincoln. The little place had one bedroom and that’s where we all slept. My Uncle Bob, a gregarious, 6’5″ 20 year old, slept on the couch. The small, temporary home might have had 750 sq. ft. of space. That’s a stretch.

We ate beans a lot, I liked red beans. Still do. Mom or Uncle Bob could make cornbread and we often had fried potatoes. I loved my life. My whole family got to stay together in one room and the most entertaining person I had ever met was out on the couch. My world was perfect. Continue reading A Christmas Story… gone wrong?

Not-So-Newlyweds: How to Keep the “Happy” in the Holidays

Remember being a kid and the only holiday stress you had was convincing your parents you were asleep while secretly plotting your position for attempting to catch Santa swooping down your chimney (well, that, and if you’re like me, wondering whether he would come at all, given that you didn’t have that all-important brick structure in your living room)? In those days, turkey magically appeared on the table, along with pumpkin pie and that gelatinous cranberry stuff. Grandma and Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins came over, and joy abounded right there in your dining room.

Then you became an adult. Maybe you got married and realized that the inner workings of such a magical day involved more than you had been led to believe. You became aware of the conspiracy to hide from children the dark side of the holidays, the one in which Grandma and Uncle So-and-So argued for half an hour about whether the turkey was really done, and you were spared from witnessing that car ride with your cousins in which they were threatened within an inch of their lives to not to torture the dog—like they did last year—or to face the direst of consequences at home. Not to mention the whole decision process of where Thanksgiving was going to be and who to spend Christmas with. (“Your family again? We always spend the holidays with your family.” Yes, that discussion). For many years, I too was protected from this less-glamorous side of the holiday season, but now, having been married for a few years, I have learned a few lessons about avoiding holiday disasters and keeping that “happily married” thing going into the New Year.

You can’t force anyone else to use a calendar. Luke’s family are big calendar users. They know their Thanksgiving plans weeks or months in advance. My family (not all, but in general) are a bit more “free-spirited” in their planning and often don’t announce holiday plans until a few days beforehand. Continue reading Not-So-Newlyweds: How to Keep the “Happy” in the Holidays

The Gifts That Keep On Giving

It’s Christmas Eve, but it’s not too late.  There’s still time to pick up a few things for your kids.  And no, I’m not talking about the Wii controller, the latest Xbox game, the flatscreen TV, or the new laptop.  I’m talking about the gifts that will make memories for years; the gifts your kids will really appreciate when they get older.

Memory Makers

My best presents weren’t the Legos or the Gameboy or the sweatshirt.  As I look back on my childhood Christmases, my favorite gifts were the ones that forced me outside.  I remember the Nerf football, spongy and shining out of the box, that survived hundreds of sessions of pick-up football in the cul-de-sac until finally it was nothing more than a bare block of foam.  It’s paint gone from all those incompletions scraping off the asphalt, it’s shape altered by the times the neighbor’s dog got a hold of it.

I remember the hockey sticks for my brother and the goalie pads for me.  Gifts that turned our driveway into an imaginary rink.  Gifts that transformed my brother into the overtime goal scorer, and me into the netminder who preserved a shutout with his spectacular glove save.  Believe it or not, that hockey gear is still in my parents’ garage, and still gets use from time to time.  Simple gifts that gave me my favorite times with my brother and inspired in me a love of hockey that I still possess today.

Continue reading The Gifts That Keep On Giving