Wishing You a ‘Johnny Cash’ Christmas

As Christmas approaches, I want to take a moment to reflect on what Christmas really means.

Country music singer-songwriter Johnny Cash wrote a poem several years ago called, “Christmas as I knew It.” The poem describes Christmastime during the Great Depression—a Christmas that, in Cash’s words, was “kinda lean.”

The gifts his family exchanged consisted of things like a homemade hickory whistle and dresses made from empty flour sacks; Christmas dinner included a squirrel his daddy had killed, and their Christmas tree wasn’t a handsome evergreen; it was a “pigapple” tree decorated with popcorn strings.

The last few stanzas of the poem are especially interesting. Cash writes the sharecroppers across the road “didn’t have it as good as us.” He and his brother took a jar of coal oil and some hickory nuts they had collected over to the sharecropper’s porch. An old lady eased open the door and thanked the boys for the simple gifts as they left.

You would think, with things as hard as they were, Johnny Cash and his family might have felt like their Christmas wasn’t anything all that special. Instead, Cash writes, “for one of the neighbors and for us, it was a good Christmas night.”

Any more, we get bombarded with conflicting messages at Christmastime. One says, “There’s more to Christmas than buying things.” The other says, “Everything is on sale. Buy it for Christmas!” This year, I hope you and I both remember Christmas is a celebration of what God has done for us through His son, Jesus. If we remember that, no matter what’s going on, we too can have “a good Christmas night.”

May your Christmas season be truly blessed and merry.