To All My Friends

My First Christmas, 1950

My First Christmas, 1950

Well, our celebration is here. If you are not ready you only have a few hours left. I wonder in my mind if we are ever truly ready to worship and celebrate the birth of our Savior. That decision is up to you and God. It is a personal walk with him. I pray that if you do not know Jesus personally you will allow him to speak to you, like HE did to the farmer through the birds in a previous post.

I want to take just a quick moment, as I know you have so many better things to do today, just to thank you for following my blog. I am the blessed one here that so many new friends are around to celebrate this great commemoration tomorrow. So I say Merry Christmas from Dixie, the best part of the world :-).   God bless you and your families. May you make joyful memories that will be cherished for generations to follow.

Your Friend,

Andy

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The Gift of Giving

Old-Christmas-Photo-Card-PedalCar-GraphicsFairyI have been working on my memoirs for a little over a year now. It seems I can never catch up. My advice to you is that if you are interested in writing yours, START NOW! The longer you wait the more you have to remember.

Since it is CHRISTmas I decided to write about all the Christmas’s I have experienced. Wait! I can’t do that! There are sixty-three of them. Whoa, how many? You’ve gotta be kidding me. There is no way I am that old. Okay, okay, I will choose just one to share with you. Sit back down and turn your computer back on. Whew!

When I was a child we were fortunate to live in a modest home in Baton Rouge, LA. Dad worked for the NATB (National Automobile Theft Bureau). We were not rich by any measure yet we were not as poor as some folks. We always had a great Christmas morning with lots of presents, some we asked for and some were a nice surprise. There were even presents that had riddles on them. We had to guess what they were before we could open them.

Years later Dad gave up his job because he felt the call of God into the ministry.  After several years he was called by the denominational home office to go on the mission field. In the early 1960’s we were privileged to live in British Guiana (now Guyana), South America.  There are so many stories I could tell of those years, like the time we were in the jungle and went swimming in a creek in our underwear. We chased tropical fish and then marched out of the jungle with our undeies hanging on the pole over each of our shoulders–natives laughing. Sorry, I got off track again. Since I have you back in your chair I am going to tell you of a wonderful Christmas.

The mission home was a large two story concrete home. We lived upstairs and the business of the mission was carried out down stairs. The week of Christmas was exciting. I was twelve and not yet old enough to participate in youth functions. Since the Christmas party was held downstairs in a large classroom, I was invited to participate. About twenty-five young people arrived and were excited about the evening. Each brought a present with the name of the person they had drawn at the previous monthly meeting. There were none for me or my two brothers; we were simply excited about being there for the games and food.

As the activity and fellowship began to wind down, the time came for the opening of gifts. I remember being so excited. I wanted to see what everyone was giving each other. Each person took their seat in wooden folding chairs formed in a circle around a small Christmas tree with only a few ornaments. The first name was announced. The next name would not be called until this one had opened their present and thanked whoever gave it to them. The paper was painstakingly pulled off so as not to tear it.

What are they doing? I thought to myself. Just rip it off like I do!

 The present was opened. She got up and walked over to the man who had given it to her and gave him a great big hug and sat down crying. The paper was folded nicely and placed in her purse.

A Tooth Brush?????

A Tooth Brush?????

 I was confused. I thought this was Christmas!

The next name was called. Paper was unwrapped slowly, folded with care and placed in brown paper bag.

 What??? Soap???

What???   Three bars of soap???

 The gift exchange continued…

A Comb???

A Comb???

Not a hair brush too???

Not a hair brush too???

 Come on, where is the fun stuff???  I am totally confused now??? This is not Christmas!

No! A two pack of toilet paper??? Paleeze!!!

No! A two pack of toilet paper??? Paleeze!!!

You’ve got to be kidding me, please tell me you are.

 I watched toiletry after toiletry given out to each other. The recipients were so excited and appreciative. Me? I couldn’t believe it. I was thankful my name was not on the list.

After Christmas was over, that night was still haunting me. Why did these people give such meaningless gifts? I went to Mama and asked. She smiled and said, “Andy, the people are extremely poor here. They can’t afford luxuries and fun things. For them a new toothbrush or shoe polish or even toilet paper is an exciting gift for them.”

I had never thought of it that way. These people were happy to receive a gift they needed, not one that was a choice, or a wish. The gifts were things they needed to live a comfortable life. Each was so thankful they shed tears in excitement. The giver sacrificed much to be able to give and the one receiving was blessed by their sacrifice.

This is why, at the age of twelve, I was blessed with an experience I will never forget. The true meaning for us, in the giving of gifts, is the receiving with open hearts the gift God has given to us. That gift is His Son. He is the ultimate sacrificial Lamb and is provided to everyone who is his child.

My gift that Christmas was this lesson. God tells us it is better to give than to receive. To give is a great gift in itself. When one sacrifices to give he is blessed beyond all measure. God gave us our gift through His Son the first Christmas morning. Thank You Father!

Hope this helps you as much as it did me? :-)

Hope this helps you as much as it did me? 🙂

Merry CHTISTmas Everyone!

 

The Man and the Birds

 

One of my favorite stories of Christmas was given by Paul Harvey, a famous radio personality. I have provided you with two avenues to this story. First,  you can read it. secondly, you can listen to it. My preference is to listen. You really cant get the jest of the story unless you can hear in Paul Harvey’s voice. He was quite a story teller and  those of us who remember him really miss him at 12:00 noon every week day.

Link:
http://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=A111US0&p=paul+harvey+christmas+story

Paul Harvey’s Story

The man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn’t make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.

“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas Eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite. That he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound…Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud…At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They’d been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

 Birds In Snow vmburkhardt.tumbler.com

Birds In Snow
vmburkhardt.tumbler.comWell, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.

Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them…He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms…Instead, they scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn.

And then, he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me…That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm…to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand.”

 Church Bells

Church Bells

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells – Adeste Fidelis – listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas.

And he sank to his knees in the snow.

Paul Harvey ~ I hope for you…and those you love… this will be a wonderful Merry Christmas.

Good Day!                                                                                                                                       Christ IS:    The Way In A Manger