WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN THERE THAT NIGHT…

Tonight after work, I stepped out of my house for a walk in the knee deep, newly fallen snow!  Everywhere I looked, the snow had transformed ordinary, unnoticeable objects on my deck and yard into lovely art subjects, nestled in the winter wonderland that I love!

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There wasn’t another soul out walking or driving around.  Lights from neighbor’s windows reflected on the falling snow,  making it look like shimmering gold & diamond dust!  My breathtakingly beautiful winter wonderland is real!  My granddaughter would call it ‘magical fairy dust!’  The child in me, could believe that’s what it is, too.

And I was the only one out revelling in it!

Everything was so still,  I could almost hear the huge feathery flakes landing.  The solitary street lamp was just a hazy glow above me.  Now I am thinking about how close it is getting to Christmas once again.  It has always been my favorite time of year.  This year I am finding myself extra sentimental about the season and the ‘reason’ for the season.

I stopped right where I was and lifted my face towards the sky.  The snowflakes landed quickly, covering my face, but instead of feeling icy cold, they warmed me.

I let myself enjoy the comfort of my faith that brings peace & love to my heart, and with it, new hope that this season always gives me.  I felt excitement stir within me that good things were still coming and how precious life really is.  It has been a very tough, emotional year but His grace has filled our family with many new blessings, for which we are all thankful.  Slowly, not easily, we are accepting that tears and grief are part of family life that comes with loving and losing loved ones.  We have the assurance that we will meet again one day.

We still have our love and our hope.

We still have our faith and our joy.

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I began thinking about another Christmas so long ago.  The one that took place in  Bethlehem.  I tried to visualize the Angels who brought the good news to the Shepherds late on Christmas Eve, as we know it on our calendar year.  By the time the Shepherds arrived at the stable, Jesus had been born.  It was Christmas day.

Christmas Eve had begun as a:  ‘Silent Night, A Holy Night’,  for the Shepherds who were out in the fields tending their flocks of sheep and keeping them safe through the night.

Joseph and Mary were on their way to Bethlehem.  Mary was going to give birth very soon.  Can you imagine the concerns Joseph must have felt trying to get her there in time?

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For the Shepherds watching their flocks by night, everything was as usual.

‘All was calm…All was bright’.

This was their regular shift.  I’m sure they were chatting about normal everyday things or taking turns napping while another guarded the sheep, until his turn came.

I started thinking about the beautiful words to some of our traditional carols.

“Oh Holy Night,

The stars are brightly shining

It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth!”

Those Shepherds didn’t know how their night was soon to change.  In a few short days, the world was changed.  Mary had given birth to a son.  Heaven and Earth rejoiced!

2nd let the heavens

 

As I stood there with the snow falling like a heavy shroud, over and around me,  I thought again, about the Shepherds first reaction when an Angel suddenly appeared and God’s glory was all around, probably almost blinding them momentarily, like the heavy snowflakes covering my eyes.  Immediately, the Angel spoke to them and took away their fear by saying:

“Fear not!  Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.”

Really!  I’m sure nothing like this had ever happened to these Shepherds before. They had probably lived very simple, quiet lives.  I would assume they had families & homes of their own.  I’m sure that standing in their place,  I would have thought:  “I’m glad I’m not alone here tonight, because no one would believe this!”  Think about it!

The Angel continued with the good news:

“This great joy is for you and for all of the people!  For tonight in Bethlehem, a child is born.  He is Christ the Lord, our Savior!”

The Shepherds probably never moved a muscle or hardly dared to breathe while the Angel gave them directions of where to go to find the new born Savior.

“In the city of David, (Bethlehem), You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, sleeping in a manger.”

As soon as that was spoken, a host of angels descended from Heaven, praising God & singing:

‘Hosanna!

Glory to God in the Highest!

Peace and good will towards man!’

Then as suddenly as they appeared, the Angels left the Shepherds alone in the field and went back to Heaven.  Just like that!  They were gone and I’m thinking that all was quiet again.

I shook the snow off my head and thought about how their heads must have been shaking as they gathered the flock closer and decided what to do next.

“Star of Wonder! Star of Night!

Star of Royal beauty bright!”

bethlehem's star

They were obedient to the Angels and believed that the long awaited promise had truly been delivered.  They followed the star into Bethlehem to see for themselves what had come to pass.  Imagine their excitement as they walked into the town of Bethlehem in search of the stable where the Angel told them they would find the Christ child.

The joy they must have felt shouting out the good tidings of the miraculous birth!

“O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee rise.”

The Three Wise Men were also following the star and bringing precious gifts for the new born King.

“We Three Kings of Orient are.

Bearing gifts, we’ve travelled afar.”

three wise men

And then behold: There He was!  Just as the Angel had told the Shepherds.

In the stable, lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, the tiny Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.  Those men, met Joseph and Mary that night, the earthly parents of Jesus!

Because Joseph and Mary had arrived in Bethlehem late, all the rooms at the Inn were already filled but the Innkeeper, seeing that Mary was heavy with child,  was kind enough to offer them what he could…A room in the stable and I’m sure they were grateful for that.

the inn keeper

For a moment tonight, I wished I could have been there. What would it have been like to be a part of the miracle and excitement in that quiet town of Bethlehem with Joseph and Mary?

The Three Wise Men that travelled from a distance led by the Bethlehem’s Star, carrying their priceless gifts for the new King.  Then last but not least,  I considered the kind hearted Inn keeper.  Surely his life was never the same after that Holy night that took place right in his stable!  Even the animals were quiet.

stable with cattle

I would have loved to have listened to the cattle softly lowing while the baby slept.

babe in the manger

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Glory to the New Born King

Peace on Earth and Mercy Mild

God and sinner, reconciled.”

Yes, it would have been wonderful to be in Bethlehem on that first Christmas.

I am thankful that the true meaning of Christmas lives within me and that it goes way back to my early childhood.  The stories my parents and grandparents told me always made me feel like I was right there in those ‘days of old’.  I will always be thankful for the blessings that I’ve carried with me throughout my life that they instilled in me about Christmas.

As a child, I loved the excitement of Santa and wrapped presents and hanging up my stocking.  Decorating the house and tree traditions are still with me today but what I remember most is the faith that was strong in our home.  The love of family and going the distance, whatever it took to be together.  Christmas isn’t only a season, it’s a feeling, one that lasts year to year because it is built on faith and family traditions.  And, because Christ is who keeps the family going.  The real ‘reason’ for the season.

 

Let The Light of Christ in Christmas Shine this year!

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We need it now, more than ever.

May the real blessings of Christmas bring you peace and happiness.  Wishing each and everyone of my family, my dear friends, readers I haven’t personally met and new fellow bloggers, all the best for 2016.

Blessings for a Merry Christmas from Memory Lane @ www.pagesofmymindblog.com

merry christmas from me

 

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS…LONG, LONG AGO

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Every year at Christmas our home had a special guest.  Our guest was always dressed in the finest fashion.  This elegant guest was our Christmas tree.  Dad and I always went by horse and sleigh on the trail through our farm to get it.  It  had been chosen earlier and marked so that there was no other decision when the time came.  Dad hitched the horses. The sleigh bells were ringing and I bundled up to my eyes, felt like the happiest kid alive!

After returning with our priceless cargo, Dad unhitched the horses, put them in the barn and then we unloaded the tree.  He said it was only fair that we put the tree in there first so that the animals could enjoy it too.  I agreed.  I loved the way my Dad thought of everything.  Also it gave our tree a chance to thaw out overnight, which I realized years later.

This was our Christmas tree tradition from the time my sisters and I could remember and it continued until Mom and Dad moved from the farm.  Long after we were all grown up with families of our own, we still drove through blizzard conditions at times, on our Mother’s prayers,  to make it home for the holidays and gather around that wonderful guest in our living room, sing carols, and enjoy the house overflowing with family, food, and dear neighbors.

Although we weren’t the only ones with a Christmas Tree tradition, ours is the one I think about the most to this day.  But, did you know the custom actually began in Germany & Scandinavia in the 15th century?

During the winter, families brought evergreens into their parlors or living rooms, and dressed them with paper roses, apples and sweets.  The smell of fresh pine helped them to remember the spirit of life when all seemed cold and dark.

One Christmas Eve, a spiritual man named Martin Luther, was walking through the forest in Germany.  He looked up and was so touched by the star filled winter sky that he chopped down a fir tree and brought it home for his children.  He put candles on the tree and lit them.  His family was so excited, they gathered around and shouted that the tree was filled with heavenly stars!  Martin Luther wanted them to see the spirit of Christ, lighting up a dark, cold world at Christmas time.

News about Martin Luther’s tree spread quickly.  Soon other families went out and chose the finest trees they could find and brought them home.  The Christmas tree tradition began.

Today, many celebrate by placing gifts underneath the tree as a reminder of the Christ child, Jesus, and His birth that special night.  The shepherds followed a bright star and Wise Men brought gifts to honor Him and show their love.

When German settlers came to America, they brought the Christmas tree tradition with them.  Many settled in Pennsylvania in the 1940’s.  Brightly decorated trees became a joyful and popular sight for young and old.

However, it was back in 1856 that President Franklin Pearce set up the first White House tree and every year since, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree is there as the White House special guest.

Growing a Christmas tree takes approximately 6-8 years before they are tall and full enough to be cut and brought to our homes.

If you are out searching for that perfect tree, even if it is in a commercial lot these days,  listen closely amongst the branches.  Close your eyes for just a moment and let your imagination take you away to those simpler yester years.  You might be able to hear that old spirit whispering softly…of a Christmas and the first Christmas tree tradition…of long, long ago.

Merry Christmas Memories.  Hold them close to your heart.

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