DECEMBER 19, 2005

By Pastor George Van Alstine

One of the lines made famous by comedian Jackie Gleason, in his weekly variety show on early TV, was this: “How sweet it is!â€? That was his way of summing up the situation when everything seemed to go his way. Of course, the comic character he created usually looked no deeper than the surface, and his “sweetâ€? situations often turned sour pretty quickly.

The spirit of the Christmas season builds, and as the day approaches, especially when our shopping is done, we may be overcome by that feeling “How sweet it is!â€?

Adding to the sense of sweetness is the fact that, for some reason, candy and cookies abound during the Christmas season. You’ve worked all year to keep your weight down, and it seems that all your friends are now conspiring to make you gain ten pounds by giving you candy at Christmas.

I’m looking at a box of See’s right now. Bless the person who gave it to me! No, seriously. You’re helping me to learn self-control. I haven’t yet unwrapped the package, and I plan to reward myself with one candy per day—no more. Visitors who come to my office will be offered unlimited candies from my See’s box: “Here, have another, so I can watch you balloon up and feel even better about myself.â€?

Other styles of discipline fascinate me. My wife is a half-candy eater. If we have a box of chocolates around for any length of time, more and more half-candies appear in the box, showing that she has been half-tempted and has only half-sinned. The nibblers and samplers go even further. They may leave an entire box looking as if it’s been attacked by a herd of mice. It’s their idea of self-control.

But it’s the crushers and borers who bother me most. They use some pretty crude means to get beneath the chocolate so they can see what’s inside. If they like what they find, they gobble it down. If the candy’s innards are not on their choice list, they disdain it and leave the candy carcase lying in the box for the candy coroners to clean up (the people who will eat anything sweet).

Christmas itself is like a tantalizing candy. Some people just lick off the chocolate and leave untouched the core of Christmas truth about the Baby Jesus, God-with-us. I’m glad that early in my life I trusted God and ate the whole thing.

How sweet it is!