“One of the greatest accomplishments in this world would be that of lifting human hearts. Blessed are they who are kind and considerate of the feelings of other people.” — Richard L. Evans
The 1st Christmas
Merry Christmas from The Howe’s.
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?
Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.
Words: Traditional French carol (Les Anges dans Nos Campagnes); translated from French to English by James Chadwick in Crown of Jesus, 1862.
It’s Christmas time – and you know, this time of year our minds are focused so much on the gifts we need to ‘buy’ for the ones we love. Well, in light of that may I share something that happened not too long ago?
I came home from work after a busy day. And I went upstairs and dropped my stuff – and then I noticed on my pillow a note, and it was written on that kind of paper, that unique kind of paper, that told me it came from my youngest daughter. I opened it up, and sure enough, it was a note from Shaina.
It said, “Dear Daddy, I miss you. I’m having fun here at school … Can I go to Santa’s secret shop. You’re gone too much. You are the best daddy in the whole world. Love, Shaina.”
Oh – oh, you talk about a payday – I loved it! I called her to me, knelt down on her level, and thanked her for the wonderful note. When I told her I loved her too, she threw her arms around my neck and just hugged me tight. It was a wonderful and a tender moment.
Now, a few days later I was with a group of teenagers.
We were chatting casually when, out of genuine curiosity, I asked them, “If you could have anything for Christmas and money was not a consideration, what would it be?”
Well, I have to confess here my shallowness. I expected them to start rambling off all these expensive toys that they would like to have. And to be honest, a few of them did mention some toys they’d like to have. But many, if not most of them, wanted such things as – their families home for the holidays; they wanted to spend time with their families and share experiences with their loved ones. I was surprised by that; I was impressed by that.
One young woman’s answer stood out in particular. She’s a quiet pretty young woman.
In response to the question, she said, “Well, I’d want some money for Christmas, and then I’d want a letter from my dad.”
Well, the ‘money’ answer I expected, but the ‘letter from dad’ – I was taken back by that, and I asked her why she would want that. I mean, I figured of all things that a teenager would want least from her parents, a sentimental letter would be that last thing.
Well, she explained that her father, at least once a year, writes her a letter in which he opens his heart, and tells her that he loves her. The letters have become a cherished tradition for her. In them, Dad bears his testimony of faith in the Lord, shares the experiences of his own life, and gives her guidance, and tells her what he expects from her.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“You mean to tell me, of all the things you could have, you would most want a letter from your dad?”
“Yes,” she said, and she meant it!
You know something? Maybe our loved ones really don’t want the gifts that come out of stores this year as much as they want the gifts that come out of the heart – the gifts of memories.
Now, as a related thought, it was recently explained to me what ‘W W J D’ meant. I had never heard that before. It means ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ Well, may I suggest something new for Christmas this year? How about ‘W.W.J.G.’? – ‘What Would Jesus Give?
A very Merry Christmas to you.
A special thanks to Glenn Rawson for sharing this great story with us.
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The other day something occurred to me that entirely changed my perspective on Christmas. It started with something a young friend of mine said. He said, “Christmas should mean everything the Savior means.” Now that’s a simple statement, but it has a profound meaning.
And then it occurred to me: If prayer is the hour of the day each day when we remember the Savior, and our church meetings is the hour of our weekly remembrance, well, then Christmas is the season of our yearly remembrance. Christmas is like a sacramental season in which we remember the Savior, and His love and sacrifice. So in that spirit, may I share this story?
As a young man, Jeff came from a childhood of affluence. For him, Christmas meant thousands of dollars worth of presents under the tree for the family. He loved to see Christmas’s like the one that he remembers where each child had fifteen presents under the tree.
Then, his life was turned upside down! When he was twelve, his parents divorced, and during that time, life became a struggle for survival. After three years, his mother remarried a man whose wealth was great, but – but not in money – in faith and love. Added to Jeff and his four siblings were eight of Jack’s children. Mom’s budget for their first Christmas was $130.00 – $10.00 for each of thirteen children.
Well, that was an adjustment. Jeff was angry. That was unreal only $10 worth of gifts? Ha, this was not a real Christmas!
And then, something happened again. On Christmas Eve, all the family loaded up in an old used bus to go caroling. One of their stops that night was a place called Paradise Ranch. As Jeff and his family were a model of having not, the Raymond’s were a model of having – private golf course, three private lakes with private fishing and boating. They had much. It was indeed a paradise!
Well, Jeff and his family’s joyous caroling interrupted the Raymond’s Christmas party. And so the Raymond’s and their guests came outside on the deck, and listened to the family’s caroling. But you know, no one can listen very long to a Christmas carol without joining in. Soon they were all singing. And then it wasn’t long before something as holy as Christmas itself descended upon that little gathering. Mrs. Raymond began to cry, and soon each of them was in tears.
As Jeff and his family began to sing “Silent Night, Holy Night,” Mrs. Raymond reached up and took down a very expensive wreath, and she hung it around Jeff’s neck.
A change came over that young man at that point that has lasted from that day to this. Christmas was no longer the price of the gifts. It was the spirit of love and giving. There was a dawn of redeeming grace within him.
Now, today, many years later, and [with] travels all over the world, Jeff and his family still have and still cherish that wreath. It has become a symbol of the love, and the sacrifice and the sharing that is Christmas.
May it be so with you, Merry Christmas!
Adapted from an experience by Jeffery Clark Bettinger. Compiled Glenn Rawson
“Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus.” – Neal A. Maxell
“The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice.”
—Neil L. Andersen