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Holiday Inspirational Stories

 


You are cordially invited to
A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION!!!

Guest of Honor: Jesus Christ

Date: Every day. Traditionally, December 25 but He's always around, so the date is flexible....

Time: Whenever you're ready. (Please don't be late, though, or you'll miss out on all the fun!)

Place: In your heart.... He'll meet you there. (You'll hear Him knock.)

Attire: Come as you are... grubbies are okay.

He'll be washing our clothes anyway. He said something about new white robes and crowns for everyone who stays till the last.

Tickets: Admission is free. He's already paid for everyone... (He says you wouldn't have been able to afford it anyway... it cost Him everything He had. But you do need to accept the ticket!!

Refreshments: New wine, bread, and a far-out drink He calls "Living Water," followed by a supper that promises to be out of this world!

Gift Suggestions: ; Your life. He's one of those people who already has everything else. (He's very generous in return though. Just wait until you see what He has for you!)

Entertainment: Joy, Peace, Truth, Light, Life, Love, Real Happiness, Communion with God, Forgiveness, Miracles, Healing, Power, Eternity in Paradise, Contentment, and much more! (All "G" rated, so bring your family and friends.)
R.S.V.P. Very Important!

He must know ahead so He can reserve a spot for you at the table.

Also, He's keeping a list of His friends for future reference. He calls it the "Lamb's Book of Life."

Party being given by His Kids (that's us!!)!

Hope to see you there! For those of you whom I will see at the party!


A BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS STORY

About a week before Christmas the family bought a new nativity scene. When they unpacked it they found 2 figures of the Baby Jesus. "Someone must have packed this wrong," the mother said, counting out the figures. "We have one Joseph, one Mary, three wise men, three shepherds, two lambs, a donkey, a cow, an angel and two babies. Oh, dear! I suppose some set down at the store is missing a Baby Jesus because we have 2."

"You two run back down to the store and tell the manager that we have an extra Jesus. Tell him to put a sign on the remaining boxes saying that if a set is missing a Baby Jesus, call 7126. Put on your warm coats, it's freezing cold out there." 

The manager of the store copied down mother's message and the next time they were in the store they saw the cardboard sign that read, "If you're missing Baby Jesus, call 7126." All week long they waited for someone to call. Surely, they thought, someone was missing that important figurine. Each time the phone rang mother would say, "I'll bet that's about Jesus," but it never was.

Father tried to explain there are thousands of these scattered over the country and the figurine could be missing from a set in Florida or Texas or California. Those packing mistakes happen all the time. He suggested just put the extra Jesus back in the box and forget about it.

"Put Baby Jesus back in the box! What a terrible thing to do," said the children. "Surely someone will call," mother said. "We'll just keep the two of them together in the manger until someone calls."

When no call had come by 5:00 on Christmas Eve, mother insisted that father "just run down to the store" to see if there were any sets left. "You can see them right through the window, over on the counter," she said. "If they are all gone, I'll know someone is bound to call tonight."

"Run down to the store?" father thundered. "It's 15 below zero out there!"

"Oh, Daddy, we'll go with you," Tommy and Mary began to put on their coats. Father gave a long sigh and headed for the front closet. "I can't believe I'm doing this," he muttered. Tommy and Mary ran ahead as father reluctantly walked out in the cold. Mary got to the store first and pressed her nose up to the store window. "They're all gone, Daddy," she shouted. "Every set must be sold." 

"Hooray," Tommy said. "The mystery will now be solved tonight!"

Father heard the news still a half block away and immediately turned on his heel and headed back home. When they got back into the house they noticed that mother was gone and so was the extra Baby Jesus figurine. "Someone must have called and she went out to deliver the figurine," my father reasoned, pulling off his boots. "You kids get ready for bed while I wrap mother's present." 

Then the phone rang. Father yelled "answer the phone and tell 'em we found a home for Jesus." But it was mother calling with instructions for us to come to 205 Chestnut Street immediately, and bring three blankets, a box of cookies and some milk. "Now what has she gotten us into?" my father groaned as we bundled up again. "205 Chestnut. Why that's across town. Wrap that milk up good in the blankets or it will turn to ice before we get there. Why can't we all just get on with Christmas? It's probably 20 below out there now. And the wind is picking up. Of all the crazy things to do on a night like this."

When they got to the house at 205 Chestnut Street it was the darkest one on the block. Only one tiny light burned in the living room and, the moment we set foot on the porch steps, my mother opened the door and shouted, "They're here, Oh thank God you got here, Ray! You kids take those blankets into the living room and wrap up the little ones on the couch. I'll take the milk and cookies." 

"Would you mind telling me what is going on, Ethel?" my father asked. "We have just walked through below zero weather with the wind in our faces all the way." 

"Never mind all that now," my mother interrupted. "There isn't any heat in this house and this young mother is so upset she doesn't know what to do. Her husband walked out on her and those poor little children will have a very bleak Christmas, so don't you complain. I told her you could fix that oil furnace in a jiffy." 

My mother strode off to the kitchen to warm the milk while my brother and I wrapped up the five little children who were huddled together on the couch. The children's mother explained to my father that her husband had  run off, taking bedding, clothing, and almost every piece of furniture, but she had been doing all right until the furnace broke down. 

"I been doin' washin' and ironin' for people and cleanin' the five and dime," she said. "I saw your number every day there, on those boxes on the counter. When the furnace went out, that number kept going' through my mind. 7162 7162. Said on the box that if a person was missin' Jesus, they should call you. That's how I knew you were good Christian people, willin' to help folks. I figured that maybe you would help me, too. So I stopped at the grocery store tonight and I called your misses. I'm not missin' Jesus, mister, because I sure love the Lord. But I am missin' heat. I have no money to fix that furnace." 

"Okay, Okay," said father. "You've come to the right place. Now let's see. You've got a little oil burner over there in the dining room. Shouldn't be too hard to fix. Probably just a clogged flue. I'll look it over, see what it needs." 

Mother came into the living room carrying a plate of cookies and warm milk. As she set the cups down on the coffee table, I noticed the figure of Baby Jesus lying in the center of the table. It was the only sign of Christmas in the house. The children stared wide-eyed with wonder at the plate of cookies my mother set before them. 

Father finally got the oil burner working but said, "You need more oil. I'll make a few calls tonight and get some oil. Yes sir, you came to the right place", father grinned.  

On the way home father did not complain about the cold weather and had barely set foot inside the door when he was on the phone. "Ed, hey, how are ya, Ed?" 

"Yes, Merry Christmas to you, too. Say Ed, we have kind of an unusual situation here. I know you've got that pick-up truck. Do you still have some oil in that barrel on your truck? You do?" 

By this time the rest of the family were pulling clothes out of their closets and toys off of their shelves. It was long after their bedtime when they were wrapping gifts. The pickup came. On it were chairs, three lamps, blankets and gifts. Even though it was 30 below, father let them ride along in the back of the truck. No one ever did call about the missing figure in the nativity set, but as I grow older I realize that it wasn't a packing mistake at all.

Jesus saves, that's what He does.

 

25 WAYS WE'RE DIFFERENT THIS CHRISTMAS

1. Last Christmas we were thinking about all the things we didn't have; this Christmas we are thinking about all the things we do have.

2. Last Christmas we were placing wreaths on the doors of our homes; this Christmas we are placing wreaths on the graves of our heroes.

3. Last Christmas we were letting our sons play with toy guns; this Christmas we are teaching them that guns are not toys.

4. Last Christmas we were counting our money; this Christmas we are counting our blessings.

5. Last Christmas we were lighting candles to decorate; this Christmas we are lighting candles to commemorate.

6. Last Christmas we paid lip service to the real meaning of the holidays; this Christmas we are paying homage to it.

7. Last Christmas we were digging deep into our bank accounts to find money to fly home for the holidays; this Christmas we are digging deep into our souls to find the courage to do so.

8. Last Christmas we were trying not to let annoying relatives get the best of us; this Christmas we are trying to give the best of ourselves to them.

9. Last Christmas we thought it was enough to celebrate the holidays; this Christmas we know we must also find ways to consecrate them.

10. Last Christmas we thought a man who could rush down a football field was a hero; this Christmas we know a man who rushes into a burning building is the real one.

11. Last Christmas we were thinking about the madness of the holidays; this Christmas we are thinking about the meaning of them.

12. Last Christmas we were getting on one another's nerves; this Christmas we are getting on our knees.

13. Last Christmas we were giving thanks for gifts from stores; this Christmas we are giving thanks for gifts from GOD.

14. Last Christmas we were wondering how to give our children all the things that money can buy; this Christmas we are wondering how to give them all the things money can't (peace, security).

15. Last Christmas we were thinking about all the pressure we are under at the office; this Christmas we are thinking about all the people who no longer have an office to go to.

16. Last Christmas we were singing carols; this Christmas we are singing anthems.

17. Last Christmas we were thinking how good it would feel to be affluent; this Christmas we are thinking how good it feels to be alive.

18. Last Christmas we thought angels were in heaven; this Christmas we know they are right here on earth.

19. Last Christmas we were contemplating all the changes we wanted to make in the new year; this Christmas we are contemplating all the changes we will have to make in this new reality.

20. Last Christmas we believed in the power of the pocketbook; this Christmas we believe in the power of prayer.

21. Last Christmas we were sharing / spreading / listening to gossip; this Christmas we are sharing / spreading and listening to the Gospel.

22. Last Christmas we were complaining about how much of our earnings went to taxes; this Christmas we comprehend that freedom isn't free.

23. Last Christmas we valued things that were costly; this Christmas we value things that are holy.

24. Last Christmas the people we idolized wore sports uniforms; this Christmas the people we idolize wear police, firefighter and military uniforms.

25. Last Christmas peace on earth is something we prayed for on Sunday morning; now it's something we pray for every day.

 

Every time a hand reaches out 
To help another....that is Christmas 
Every time someone puts anger aside 
And strives for understanding 
That is Christmas 
Every time people forget their differences 
And realize their love for each other 
That is Christmas 
May this Christmas bring us 
Closer to the spirit of human understanding 
Closer to the blessing of peace!

 

 

A Christmas Mistake

 

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. 

I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. 

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas. 

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant." 

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. 

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. 

All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. 

Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise. 

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. 

Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. 

As I waited, the students were led into the room. 

Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. 

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. 

So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title. 

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads. 

Those in the front row- center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. 

As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. 

Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love." 

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W". 

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. 

But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W". 

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. 

A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. 

In that instant, we understood - the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a  purpose for our festivities. 

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear: 



"CHRIST WAS LOVE" 


And, I believe, He still is. 

 

 

"All I Need to Know I Learned From a Snowman"

* It's okay if you're a little bottom heavy.
* Hold your ground, even when the heat is on.
* Wearing white is always appropriate.
* Winter is the best of the four seasons.
* It takes a few extra rolls to make a good midsection.
* There's nothing better than a foul weather friend.
* The key to life is to be a jolly, happy soul.
* We're all made up of mostly water.
* You know you've made it when they write a song about you.
* Accessorize! Accessorize! Accessorize!
* Avoid yellow snow. Don't get too much sun.
* It's embarrassing when you can't look down and see your feet.
* It's fun to hang out in your front yard.
* There's no stopping you once you're on a roll.

~ Unknown ~

 

 

The School Play 

Halloween was history and Thanksgiving day had passed. 

St Anne's School was all a-buzz. It was time to start getting ready for the school's Christmas Pageant.

Tommy had been in the "Sunday School Christmas Sing" last year. Now that he was in "real" school, he was excited about getting to be in the "real" pageant.

He kept asking his mother, "Do you think they will let me be Joseph. I would like that. REALLY like that"

"Maybe I could be baby Jesus. I would just lay there and pretend I was asleep. You know I can do that good."

"Oh, Mama, it would be fun to be a tiny little lamb; standing so quietly looking at Baby Jesus"

Tommy's mother was really quite concerned, because the school was quite large and obviously not every child was going to get to be in the play. If he didn't get a part, she was not sure how he would take it.

She had tried to gently prepare him for the possible disappointment, but nothing she said could temper the excitement.

Finally the day came that the parts were awarded. Tommy's mother went to pick him up after school with great trepidation.

As she reached the front door of the school, Tommy rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. "Guess what Mum," he shouted, "I've been chosen to clap and cheer!" 

 



~*~*~*~Why I like CHRISTMAS~*~*~*~


Christmas is something new that comes 
each year to an old world
It is like new fallen snow upon an old tree;
A new flower on an old plant;
New shoes on aching feet;
A new home in an old town;
A new light on a dark street;
New hope in a hopeless situation.
Christmas was introduced by a prophecy,
heralded by the song of an angel,
and announced by the birth of a Savior.
I like Christmas because it sparkles & glows.
It comes only once a year, and still its
radiance warms the child's heart and
fills his mind with pleasant dreams 
of joy and happiness
I like Christmas because Christmas is Christ
I see the beauty of the gospel unfold within
my heart, which began in Bethlehem of Judea
when HIS spirit glorified that little town, and
HIS coming sanctified a lowly manger
Christmas bears Christ's name, symbolizes 
His love, proclaims his truth, and showers
His gifts upon the world.
Although Earthly Kings ignored him,
and the proud could not understand him,
the common people heard him with
with hungry hearts, and gladly received him
I like Christmas because it meets my
deepest needs! It cures me of greed, and 
selfishness, fills my empty soul with
peace and compassion, and renews
my faith and hope in an erring world!
May Christmas time mean more to you
Then gifts on Christmas morn
May you feel the peace the whole world knew
When Christ the Lord was born
May you know the special gladness
And hope that came to men
And may it thrill your heart just now
As Christmas comes again
God bless my friends.

 

 

The Innkeeper 
O M Keve 

Yes, they came to my inn at Bethlehem, and how well I remember the couple; it seems but yesterday. 

He was a manly sort of a man, the kind that would cause you to look again if you saw him once; kindly and dignified, with a long beard; a strong man with quiet manner. There was something that charmed me about the woman who was with him, and--well, I just can't tell you-- anyway, one could see that she might soon become a mother. 

It rather worried me that I didn't have a place for them, but so many had come for the registration, you know. Sanballat, rich merchant, had come down from Damascus; Thaddeus, one of my old customers, had come up from Gaza. A party from Hebron came just at nightfall, and, since I knew them all, I could not turn them away. 

Joseph told me that he was from Nazareth, up in the hill country of Galilee. He thought, of course, he could have a place to stay. And, as he asked me, he looked toward Mary and knew that I would understand. 

I did understand, and I tried to think which of the men I could ask to move and make place for the couple. But how could I ask these customers of mine to inconvenience themselves: After all, I did not know Joseph and Mary. 

I said to myself, O well, somebody will look after them. I must not disturb the others, and it is a beautiful star-lit night. Here, I have it, finally I said to myself, we can make room for them in the manger, and some way they will get along. 

I have wondered a lot about them since they have gone. He was a manly sort of man with his long beard and dignified look and quiet manners. And the woman, she was like a princess. I wish now, that I had said to the men in my inn, "We must make a place for this man and this woman from Galilee!" 

But I didn't, and I am sorry. After all, they might, have been people of consequence. 

The Real Santa 

I remember my first Christmas party with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!" 

My grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns.  Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. 

"No Santa Claus!" she snorted. "Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go." 

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. 

I hadn't even finished my second cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. 

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. 'Take this money and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's. I was only eight years old. 

I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. 

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobbie Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. 

Bobbie Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobbie Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have a coat. 

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobbie Decker a coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. 

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

 "Yes," I replied shyly. "It's ... for Bobbie." The nice lady smiled at me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas. 

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons, and write, "To Bobbie, From Santa Claus" on it -- Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobbie Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers. 

Grandma parked down the street from Bobbie's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." 

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobbie. 

Forty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my grandma, in Bobbie Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: 

ridiculous

Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team. 

 

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking.

Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, "Hi there." He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists.

"Hi there, baby; Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster," the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks,"What do we do?"

Erik continued to laugh and answer, "Hi, hi there." Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man.

The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo."

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skidrow bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot.

The old man sat poised between me and the door. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed.

As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's "pick-me-up" position.

Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man's. Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship. 

Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged
hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's
bottom and stroked his back. 

No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck.

The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, "You take care of this baby."

Somehow I managed, "I will," from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift." I said nothing more than a muttered thanks.

With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, "My God, my God, forgive me." I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes.

I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, "Are you willing to share your son for a moment?" when He shared His for all eternity. The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, "To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children."

 

My First Christmas In Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees
around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars,
reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
please wipe away the tear
For I am spending Christmas with
Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you,
the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description,
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart.
But I am not so far away,
We really aren't apart.

So be happy for me, dear ones,
You know I hold you dear.
And be glad I'm spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift,
from my heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory
of my undying love.

After all, love is a gift more precious
than pure gold.
It was always most important
in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other,
as my Father said to do.
For I can't count the blessing or love
he has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and
wipe away that tear.
Remember, I am spending Christmas with
Jesus Christ this year.

This poem was written by a 13 year old boy who died of a brain tumor that he had battled for four years. He died on December 14, 1997. He gave this to his Mom before he died. His name was Ben.

 

Christmas is for love. It is for joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for reuniting with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly decorated packages. But mostly, Christmas is for love. I had not believed this until a small elf-like student with wide-eyed innocent eyes and soft rosy cheeks gave me a wondrous gift one Christmas. 

Mark was an 11 year old orphan who lived with his aunt, a bitter middle aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her dead sister's son. She never failed to remind young Mark, if it hadn't been for her generosity, he would be a vagrant, homeless waif. Still, with all the scolding and chilliness at home, he was a sweet and gentle child. 

I had not noticed Mark particularly until he began staying after class each day (at the risk of arousing his aunt's anger, I later found) to help me straighten up the room. We did this quietly and comfortably, not speaking much, but enjoying the solitude of that hour of the day. When we did talk, Mark spoke mostly of his mother. Though he was quite small when she died, he remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman, who always spent much time with him. 

As Christmas drew near however, Mark failed to stay after school each day. I looked forward to his coming, and when the days passed and he continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class, I stopped him one afternoon and asked why he no longer helped me in the room. I told him how I had missed him, and his large gray eyes lit up eagerly as he replied, "Did you really miss me?" 

I explained how he had been my best helper. "I was making you a surprise," he whispered confidentially. "It's for Christmas." With that, he became embarrassed and dashed from the room. He didn't stay after school any more after that. 

Finally came the last school day before Christmas. Mark crept slowly into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing something behind his back. "I have your present," he said timidly when I looked up. "I hope you like it." He held out his hands, and there lying in his small palms was a tiny wooden box. 

"Its beautiful, Mark. Is there something in it?" I asked opening the top to look inside. " 

"Oh you can't see what's in it," He replied, "and you can't touch it, or taste it or feel it, but mother always said it makes you feel good all the time, warm on cold nights, and safe when you're all alone." 

I gazed into the empty box. "What is it Mark," I asked gently, "that will make me feel so good?" "It's love," he whispered softly, "and mother always said it's best when you give it away." And he turned and quietly left the room. 

So now I keep a small box crudely made of scraps of wood on the piano in my living room and only smile as inquiring friends raise quizzical eyebrows when I explain to them that there is love in it. 

Yes, Christmas is for gaiety, mirth and song, for good and wondrous gifts. But mostly, Christmas is for love. 

~ Unknown ~

 

It was just a few more days until Christmas in San Francisco, and the shopping downtown was starting to get to us. I remember crowds of people waiting impatiently for slow-moving buses and streetcars on those little cement islands in the middle of the street. Most of us were loaded down with packages, and it looked like many of us were beginning to wonder if all those countless friends and relatives actually deserved so many gifts in the first place. This was not the Christmas spirit I'd been raised with.

When I finally found myself virtually shoved up the steps of a jammed streetcar, the idea of standing there packed like a sardine the whole way home was almost more than I could take. What I would have given for a seat! I must have been in some kind of exhausted daze because as people gradually got off, it took me a while to notice that there was room to breathe again.

Then I saw something out of the corer of my eye. A small, dark-skinned boy, he couldn't have been more than five or six, tugged on a woman's sleeve and asked, "Would you like a seat?" He quietly led her to the closest free seat he could find. Then he set out to find another tired person. As soon as each rare, new seat became available, he would quickly move through the crowd in search of another burdened woman who desperately needed to rest her feet.

When I finally felt the tug on my own sleeve, I was absolutely dazzled by the beauty in this little boy's eyes. He took my hand, saying, "Come with me," and I think I'll remember that smile as long as I live. As I happily placed my heavy load of packages on the floor, the little emissary of love immediately turned to help his next subject.

The people on the streetcar, as usual, had been studiously avoiding each other's eyes, but now they began to exchange shy glances and smiles. A businessman offered a section of newspaper to the stranger next to him; three people stooped to return a gift that had tumbled to the floor. And now people were speaking to one another. That little boy had tangibly changed something, we all relaxed into a subtle feeling of warmth and actually enjoyed the trip through the final stops along the route.

I didn't notice when the child got off. I looked up at one point and he was gone. When I reached my stop I practically floated off that streetcar, wishing the driver a happy holiday, noticing the sparkling Christmas lights on my street in a fresh, new way. Or maybe I was seeing them in an old way, with the same open wonder I felt when I was five or six. I thought, "So that's what they mean by And a little child shall lead them...."

Written by Beverly M. Bartlett

 

Just Sing

Excerpt from the book
ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH
by Joan Wester Anderson 


She should never have waited so long to tackle the Christmas shopping, Kimberley Little reminded herself as she shifted her bundles from one aching arm to the other. She hated shopping, hated having to brave the crowds, and sift through endless piles of merchandise. But there was only so much holiday gift-buying one could do through catalogues, and, of course, the children needed their annual photo taken with Santa Claus. So here she was, imprisoned in a slow-moving "Visit Santa" line, wondering if she might spend the entire holidays in this Albuquerque mall.

Of course, she had to admit she was never "up" at this time of year, no matter how smoothly things went. Her father had died tragically in a plane crash just a few days before Christmas when Kimberley was fourteen, and although many years had passed, she never faced December without feeling echoes of that familiar shock, sorrow and loneliness. As her faith matured, Kimberley had gotten involved in her church, singing in the choir, and teaching her young sons to pray. She didn't doubt that her father was in heaven with Jesus, and she would see him again. But every year as Christmas approached, the same nagging question emerged: "This is all supposed to be so wonderful. So why isn't it?" 

Kimberley shifted packages again, and looked at her three young sons. Their moods seemed no cheerier than hers. One was demanding a ride on the train further down the mall. Another was hungry. "I hate Christmas!" muttered the eldest, his lip thrust out in frustration. 

Kimberley felt guilty. "Moms have so much influence on the spirit of the family," she says. "If we're just a little bit cranky, everyone picks up on it." She didn't want to spoil this season for the children. They shouldn't carry the same vague sadness that she did. 

And yet… She glanced around at the other families in line. They were all like hers, she realized, the kids were irritable, tired, fighting with one another, the parents grimly Determined to Endure.

Why are we like this? Kimberley wondered. Where was the real Christmas, the spirit of love and peace, the joyful awareness that a Savior had come into the world? How did one cut through the confusion, the fatigue, the pressure, yes, even the sorrowful memories, to find it?

Suddenly, God nudged her. "It couldn't have been anything else," Kimberley says, "because all at once I felt a little tingle, as if something new was happening. And I realized that if I wanted to feel better about myself, I had to take the first step. I had to be brave." But how?

Sing a carol… The suggestion was already in her heart. She had recently performed a solo in church. She knew how to sing. But this noisy shopping center was not church. "Oh, no, God, not me," she told Him silently. "You remember how shy I am ... People will stare."

Bring Christmas to the mall. Sing. 

Kimberley sighed. It was no use. She knew that Voice. And hadn't she asked Him where Christmas was?

Softly she began to sing. "Silent night, holy night ..." The couple in front of her, who had been filling out a photography order form, paused and turned around.

"All is calm, all is bright ..." Kimberley reached for her youngest son and picked him up. What if they threw her out of the mall, for disturbing the peace? 

You're bringing the peace, the answer came. Sing. 

The children behind her had stopped arguing. "Listen," one whispered to the other. "That lady's singing."

The tips of Kimberley's ears turned red. "Round yon virgin, mother and child ..." she went on. Her sons would never speak to her again. 

But…Was it her imagination, or did she hear another voice? And another? Yes, the couple in front of her was singing, their order form forgotten. Now the children behind her, and their parents, and the family next to them. Dazed, Kimberley realized that the entire section of the Santa Claus line had joined her. Even her own offspring. 

It was true! Little risks could lead to wonderful things. And she was feeling better, her spirit soothed, her mind quieted. Maybe Christmas, and its eternal message, was simply as close as anyone allowed it to be. 

Voices faded as the song ended. "Let's do 'Angels We Have Heard on High'" Kimberley suggested to the people around her. It was her eldest's favorite carol, and her dad had always liked it too.

It was going to be a wonderful Christmas. 

Joan Wester Anderson
angelwak@earthlink.net


Write Joan and let her know what you thought of her story!

 

Letter From Santa
~ Aaron Haiduk ~

Dear Aaron~

I was surprised to get your letter this year. I was under the impression that you had succumbed to that saddest of childhood illnesses, Disbelief. And while I never actually heard you say you didn't believe in me, I haven't gotten a letter from you since you were eight. Your letters have been missed at the North Pole, (By the way, Mrs. Claus asked me to tell you that she still has one of your letters in her scrapbook. If only I knew how to make Saturday and Sunday 48 hours apiece!) Your request this year, however, made me pause. I thought, for old time's sake, I should write back, and tell you personally why I can't bring your hearts desire this Christmas.

If I understand your letter, you want to give the world Love. You want me to distribute your love to the people of the world who have, but sadly, rarely use, this all important of human virtues. It is noble of you to wish to give this away, as the need for it is growing ever greater, every year. And every year, I hope to be able grant your wish, but it just is not in my power. And to say that you have enough love for the world is a grand boast, although at the same time, perfectly reasonable. All of us have the ability to do so, if we only choose. It is my belief that of all of the times of the year, Christmas is the one where your gift should be unnecessary. 

Sadly, though, I watch the world, and see how jaded we have all become. Yes, Aaron, even I fall victim to it on occasion. I try to remember why I got into the suit in the first place, and remember the old days when I was delivering toys I had made with my own two hands to the children of my village. 

It began there, and my reasons for doing it haven't changed. I still enjoy the look of wonder and excitement on the faces of the children of the world. 

While I know that all of the children writing letters to me are looking for something, it is something I can give. I know they all want something, as I know that you want something. You can't fool old St. Nick, my dear! 

You want this gift to be returned. 

The only gift this Christmas that is meant to be given back, and shared with all. Even I, in all my years of giving without seeming to receive, know that Altruism is only a fable. No one, not even me, escapes the need for balance, my dear, Aaron. I receive the feeling in my heart of knowing that I have done everything I could to make the children of the world smile. And you want to receive the love of your fellow human beings. Not a bad wish, considering...

Unfortunately, I don't think you understand the way love works, yet. You see, I can't distribute your love to the world, only you can do that. You are the only one with the power to give what you have been given. 

Your gifts are numerous, as are the gifts of all humanity, and if you wish to share what you have, you must do it yourself. 

However, I can help, in one small regard. I hope you don't mind, but I borrowed your email address, and sent this to as many people as I could from there. (By the way, you should have included "Faster Computer" on your list! It's time to move out of the Stone Age!)

The main reason I've done this, is because I'm not the one that you should've asked to distribute your gift. If you want to give love to the world, start with those you love. Tell them how you feel about them, and ask them to help. Ask them to contribute their love as well, and give it to some soul in need this Christmas. Who knows, kid. You may still be able to get your wish.

So, in closing, I wish you all the best, Aaron, and much luck in the years to come. Your path is not an easy one, but I think you've chosen well. I'll be seeing you next year, and in the coming years, until you decide you don't want Santa Claus to be real.

Hoping to hear from you soon,
Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus

 


I Corinthians 13, Christmas Version 

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator. 

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook. 

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing. 

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend myriad holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point. 

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. 

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. 

Love is kind, though harried and tired. 

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. 

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. 

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't. 

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

Love never fails. 

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. 

But giving the gift of love will endure. 

Merry Christmas 

Author Unknown 

 

From Dr. Seuss: 

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?" 

"It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!" 

"It came without packages, boxes or bags!" 

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. 

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."

"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

And what happened then...? 

Well...in Who-ville they say That the Grinch's small heart Grew three sizes that day! "

 

 


Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. 

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. 

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't thnk of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.

But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what. 

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.

Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on. 

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "Why?" "I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt."

That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. 

When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. "Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? 

Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp. "We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.

She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children---sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out. 

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. 

In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes. 

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away. Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, "'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will." 

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. 

Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand." 

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life. 

 

DIME STORE ANGEL 
It was just a Christmas Angel, that my Mom put on our tree. 
She bought it at a five and dime, when I was only three. 
Each year we'd trim our Christmas tree, with lights and ornaments. 
Then Mom would always tell me, what the Angel represents. 

The Angels came to tell the shepherds, of the Christ Child's birth. 
And, Angels are still here with us, to guide us here on earth. 
The Angel on our Christmas tree, was made in such a way. 
That if the light inside burned out, you just threw it away. 

The light burned out when I was twelve, the Angel would not shine. 
But, Mom would not throw it away, she said it looked just fine. 
She loved that little Angel, that she put upon our tree. 
She said it didn't need a light, for anyone to see. 

Then I grew up, and I moved out to start my family. 
And, I'd go home at Christmas time, to help her trim her tree. 
My wife and children went with me, to mom's house every year. 
The house was filled with love and joy, as we shared Christmas cheer. 

The kids would always say to her, "The Angel is burned out." 
Then, she would smile and tell them, what the Angel's all about. 
She told another reason, for it's specialty. 
Your daddy picked that Angel out, when he was only three. 

My mother passed away this year, early in the spring. 
And then I had the painful task, of going through her things. 
The beautiful old house she owned, was left me in her will. 
We moved back in the summertime, we feel her in it still. 

Early in December, we brought out our Christmas tree. 
I went up to the attic, just to see what I could see. 
I saw a cardboard box, with markings, "Ornaments and stuff." 
And in it was the little Angel, that she loved so much. 

I brought the cardboard box downstairs, and showed the family. 
Then they persuaded me to put the Angel on our tree. 
We trimmed the tree that weekend, and we talked of Christmas past. 
Then when the tree was finally done, the Angel went on last. 

Every night till Christmas, all the lights were burning bright. 
Except the little Angel, that had long burned out her light. 
Then on Christmas morning, I arose before the rest. 
I had to have my coffee, to be at my very best. 

I walked into the living room, my coffee cup in hand. 
Then what I saw, so puzzled me, I could not understand. 
I just stood in silence, as, my eyes filled up with tears. 
The little angel was all aglow, that had been dark for many years. 

 

Recipe For Christmas Joy 

1/2 cup Hugs 
4 tsp. Kisses 
4 Cups Love 
1 Cup Special Holiday Cheer 
1/2 Cup Peace On Earth 
3 tsp. Christmas Spirits 
2 Cups Goodwill Toward Man 
1 Sping Of Mistletoe 
1 Medium-Size Bag Of Christmas Snowflakes (The Regular Kind Won't Do !! 

Mix hugs, kisses, smiles, and love until consistent. Blend in holiday cheer, peace on earth, Christmas spirits and good will toward men. Use the mixture to fill, warm heart, where it can be stored for a lifetime. (it never goes bad!) Serve as desired under mistletoe, sprinkle liberally with special Christmas snowflakes. It is especially good when accompanied by Christmas Carols and family get-togethers. Serve to one and all. 

 

The Christmas Scout
By Samuel D. Bogan

In spite of the fun and laughter, 13-year-old Frank Wilson was not happy.

It was true that he had received all the presents he wanted. And he enjoyed these traditional Christmas Eve reunions of relatives - this year at Aunt Susan's - for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes.

But Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who, during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver. Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together. Frank said good-bye to his relatives and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend; from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his favorite gift. The other presents he placed on his new sled.

Then Frank headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him. Though rich in wisdom, he lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived, and his patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family. To Frank's disappointment, his friend was not at home.

As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, through one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with the limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated near them weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents. A sudden thought struck Frank - he had not done his "good turn" for the day.

Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door.

"Yes?" the sad voice of the woman inquired.

"May I come in?"

"You are very welcome," she said, seeing his sled full  of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, "but I  have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children."

"That's not why I am here," Frank replied. "Please choose whatever presents you'd like for your children from this sled."

"Why, God bless you!" the amazed woman answered gratefully.

She selected some candies, a game, the toy airplane  and a puzzle. When she took the new Scout flashlight, Frank almost cried out. Finally, the stockings were full.

"Won't you tell me your name?" she asked, as Frank was 
leaving.

"Just call me the Christmas Scout," he replied.

The visit left the boy touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow was not the only sorrow in the world. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the remainder of his gifts. The plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy.

But he trudged homeward, cold and uneasy. Having given his presents away, Frank now could think of no reasonable explanation to offer his parents. He wondered how he could make them understand.

"Where are your presents, son?" asked his father as he entered the house.

"I gave them away."

"The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your coat from  Grandma? Your flashlight? We thought you were happy with your gifts."

"I was - very happy," the boy answered lamely.

"But, Frank, how could you be so impulsive?" his mother asked. "How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?"

His father was firm. "You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents."

His brother gone, his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity. For he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back, however, he wondered if he would ever again truly recapture joy in his life. He thought he had this evening, but it had been fleeting. Frank thought of his brother and sobbed himself to sleep.

The next morning, he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke:

"Merry Christmas, everybody! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning, another youngster has a fine plaid jacket, and several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenage boy who simply referred to himself as the Christmas Scout. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself."

Frank felt his father's arms go around his shoulders, and he saw his mother smiling through her tears. "Why didn't you tell us? We didn't understand. We are so proud of you, son."

The carols came over the air again filling the room with music.

"...Praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on 
Earth."

1997 Samuel D. Bogan


THE CHRISTMAS TEN COMMANDMENTS

Thou shalt give thy heart to Christ. Let Him be at the top of thy Christmas list.

Thou shalt prepare thy soul for Christmas. Spend not so much on gifts that thy soul is forgotten.

Thou shalt not let Santa Claus replace Christ, thus robbing the day of its spiritual reality.

Thou shalt not burden the shop girl, the mailman, and the merchant with complaints and demands.

Thou shalt give thyself with thy gift. This will increase its value a hundred fold, and he who receiveth it shall treasure it forever.

Thou shalt not value gifts received by their cost. Even the least expensive.

may signify love, and that is more priceless than silver and gold. Thou shalt not neglect the needy. Share thy blessings with many who will go hungry and cold unless thou are generous.

Thou shalt not neglect thy church. Its services highlight the true meaning of the season.

Thou shalt be as a little child. Not until thou has become in spirit as a little one art thou ready to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.

Thou shall not forget to share your joy, hope, peace and faith with those around you.

I Learned About Life From a Snowman...

~ It's okay if you're a little bottom heavy. 
~ Hold your ground, even when the heat is on. 
~ Wearing white is always appropriate. 
~ Winter is the best of the four seasons. 
~ It takes a few extra rolls to make a good midsection. 
~ There's nothing better than a foul weather friend. . 
~ The key to life is to be a jolly, happy soul. 
~ We're all made up of mostly water. 
~ You know you've made it when they write a song about you. 
~ Accessorize! Accessorize! Accessorize! 
~ Don't get too much sun. 
~ It's embarrassing when you can't look down and see your feet. 
~ It's fun to hang out in your front yard. 
~ Always put your best foot forward. 
~ There's no stopping you once you're on a roll.

Happy Holidays from Spike & Jamie


 


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