a special Christmas message from President and CEO Mike Fichter

Things I Don’t Understand About Christmas

It’s sort of funny the way life works out.  As a younger man I went through multiple phases during which I thought I had it all figured out.  But the longer I journey down life’s path, the more I realize just how much I really don’t understand.

I don’t understand why some people speed up, then slow down, then speed up again on interstates.

I don’t understand why so many people consider turn signals to be optional.

I don’t understand why homebuyers on HGTV feel compelled to renovate every room in a newly-purchased home, as opposed to buying a few gallons of paint and renting a carpet cleaner at Kroger.

I don’t understand the psychology of the incessant piano music in the background of Hallmark Christmas movies.

I don’t understand why so many people will go through life without ever visiting Montana.

I don’t understand why I have three hundred channels on TV and can’t find a single thing worth watching.

I don’t understand pickleball.

I don’t understand why, regardless of what I purchase at Kohl’s, I am always ten dollars away from the next Kohl’s Cash award.

When it comes to Christmas, there’s a whole lot I don’t understand as well.

I don’t understand why I can buy virtually anything in the world through eBay or Amazon, yet both of them combined pale in comparison to the appeal of the old Sears catalogue.  If you’re under 50, just trust me on this one.

I don’t understand why the 30-foot strands of lights that worked perfectly before being packed in the box after last Christmas didn’t work when taken out of that same box this year.

I don’t understand why Charlie Brown, Rudolph and Frosty are shown more than once per season.  Back in the day, if you missed those shows, you missed them. Tough luck until next year.

I don’t understand why Frosty Returns was ever made. Borderline criminal.

I don’t understand why I miss Ronco commercials so much.

I don’t understand why the opening riff of Jingle Bell Rock becomes more irritating each year.

I don’t understand the depth of disdain for fruitcake and eggnog.

I don’t understand the allure of figgy pudding.

I don’t understand why the Christmas mornings I remember the most are the ones on which we had the least amount of gifts under the tree.

I don’t understand why I didn’t spend more time at Christmas asking my grandparents about their lives, instead of engaging in so much small talk that barely scratched the surface. Those special opportunities are now gone forever.

I don’t understand why I can still remember so clearly what it felt like to fall asleep as a child in a candlelit church at midnight.

I can’t understand why Christmas Eve feels more peaceful than any other night of the year.

So many things that I just don’t understand.

I don’t understand why God chose a virgin teenage girl, from a remote village of no reputation, to bear the baby destined to turn the world upside down.

I don’t understand what Mary must have felt in her heart when she felt the Messiah’s tiny legs kick for the first time within her womb.

I don’t understand how Joseph had the strength to bear up under the laughter, gossip and scorn surrounding the surprise pregnancy of his betrothed.

I don’t understand how grueling it must have been for a mother nearing birth to journey over 70 miles of rough terrain from Nazareth to Bethlehem, even if there really was a donkey.

I don’t understand how there could be no room for them in the inn.

I don’t understand how a king who had it all would leave His throne to be born in the filth of a stable that was likely little more than a damp cave.

I don’t understand what it must have been like to hear God cry.

I don’t understand what it must have been like to see a pitch-black sky come alive with angelic hosts.

I don’t understand how beautiful the Star must have truly been.

I don’t understand the depth of worship the shepherds must have experienced as they fell to their knees in adoration of the newborn Christ.

I don’t understand the trembling that gripped Mary’s heart when Simeon looked deep into her eyes and prophesied of a coming sword that would pierce her very soul.

I don’t understand how the baby grew up to love, heal and forgive, only to be despised and rejected by the very ones He came to seek and to save.

I don’t understand how 33 years after that first Christmas Eve, the beautiful Lamb of God willingly gave Himself to be scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to a cross, all while the mother who bore Him in her womb, and nursed Him in that Bethlehem stable, surely sank to her knees in unspeakable grief.

I don’t understand how He could say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they are doing.” The baby born in Bethlehem, the baby born to die, had completed His mission.  It was finished.

No, I don’t understand these things, for they are too deep for me.

But I am thankful that I do understand this: the baby whose birth we celebrate on Christmas was the one, the only one, who could, and did, pay the penalty for our sin.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life”.  He truly is the greatest Christmas gift of all time to all who will receive Him.

This is what I understand about Christmas.

May you have a blessed and joyous holiday season.

Mike Fichter
President and CEO