Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Stories

By Debby Giusti

Advent, which encompasses the four weeks leading up to Christmas, is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. Each year, we invite him anew into our hearts and our homes, welcoming the tiny babe with gifts we present to the Christ we see in others as we celebrate his birth.

As Christians, we are filled with anticipation and expectation because we know, just as long ago, a tiny child born in a stable and lying in a manger can and does transform our world today. That’s Good News.

Like you, I love stories. From the annunciation and visitation to the nativity and epiphany, I often imagine myself as one of the characters. Angels and shepherds, innkeepers and kings, the rich lineup allows me to enter fully into the story and invariably what occurred over two thousand years ago gives insight to my life today. God reveals himself through his stories, and I come to know him more fully as I break open the Word and study his sacred scripture.

Each Christmas Eve, my family gathers around the tree and manger as my husband reads the Nativity Story from Luke’s gospel. Then we process through the house, carrying the baby Jesus, and knock on our closed bedroom doors that symbolize the times we have closed our hearts to the Lord. As we process, we sing Silent Night until, at last, we end up in front of the crèche and place the tiny baby in the manger. There we join hands, offer thanks for the past year and pray for God’s blessings in the year ahead.

That tradition is part of our family story, part of who we are and how we embrace Christ’s birth each year. I know all of you have traditions that are part of your family story as well.

Just as with scripture, our own stories are important. Our successes and failures, our struggles and joys reveal God’s mercy and love. In sharing our stories we better understand how the past shapes the present and gives meaning to the future, and that understanding draws us closer together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

This Advent, I encourage you to pick a person, perhaps someone you’d like to know better, meet for coffee and swap stories. I’m sure you’ll be richly blessed because of your sharing.

One of my special Christmas stories involves the birth of my second child. Wanting to be in control of the situation, I had decided the baby would be born on or before my December 19 due date so we could be home from the hospital by December 25.

Of course, I wasn’t in charge -- God was! The first contraction hit at 8 A.M. on Christmas morn. Throughout my labor and delivery, I focused on the Christ Child’s birth and have always felt humbled that my son, who we named Joseph, would share a birthday with the Lord. God blessed me that Christmas with the gift of my baby. He also allowed me to live out the Nativity Story of the Christ Child’s birth in a very special way.

If you can take time from your holiday preparation, grab a cup of coffee, fill your plate with pumpkin bread, fruit cake and quiche and share a special Christmas story.
Leave a comment and your email to be entered into a drawing for a copy of CHRISTMAS PERIL, a two-in-one suspense that features my novella, YULE DIE, as well as MERRY MAYHEM, by Margaret Daley. The winner will also receive a $10 Starbuck’s gift card.

May the blessing of the Christ Child fill you anew as you celebrate his birth!

Merry Christmas!

Debby Giusti



86 comments :

  1. /sets out coffee and pastries/

    One Christmas story...

    My mom was diagnosed with cancer about 25 years ago. I was 10 that Christmas. My parents were both teachers at the small Christian school I attended.

    Every year, the teachers/staff would have a gift exchange at the Christmas party. This particular year, my parents had never heard anything about it and they guessed that the rest of the staff didn't want them to feel obligated to participate given our financial situation [Mom was mostly unemployed by that point - she couldn't work and the school couldn't afford to pay her plus the hospital, surgeries, ICU visits, etc].

    They walked into the Christmas party that year to find a table heaping with gifts. They felt a bit left out, but then they discovered that instead of doing a gift exchange the entire staff of the school had drawn one of our names - my parents, me, my sister - and bought US gifts thinking that Christmas was going to be very lean at our house.

    For a variety of reasons, that wasn't going to be the case [unexpected money from elsewhere - may parents were actually going shopping after the party], but the whole thing still brings tears to my eyes. I still have a couple of the things I received that year - one is a little mouse planter that I've used as a pen/pencil holder. It was given to me by my first grade teacher, Mrs. Love.

    I need to remember that if I ever know someone in that kind of situation... We had well over 80 gifts under the tree that year - for the four of us - but the biggest blessing was how much our friends loved us.

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

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  2. What a beautiful tradition Debby, thank you. And how wonderfully special about Joseph!

    Carol - that needed a Kleenex alert!

    For the past several years, we have donated rabbits, chickens and/or lambs in the name of Christ to Dalits in India through Gospel for Asia. We pray and try to imagine the impact this will have on a family with little hope of any other income.

    Wouldn't it be great to one day meet some of these families in Heaven and hear their stories of how Christ blessed their lives too?

    Thanks Debby. I'd love to be entered: may at maythek9spy dot com

    PS - just ran across this article: www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/lifestyle/rnib/?utm_source=tmg&utm_medium=TD_8077935&utm_campaign=rnib1512

    Perhaps we should nominate some Seeker books! :)

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  3. Wow! I dripped tears into my keyboard! Carol, that was beautiful. And thank you for the Christmas Reflections, Seekerville! Sometimes I feel like we're drowning in lights and tinsel, when it should be stars and straw. (ooh, I like that...)

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  4. Debby, lovely, lovely traditions. What a story. My daughter was born on Easter..so lovely to have these births intertwined with the story of our Lord.

    The family story for us involves a blizzard and a clown. My mom went into labor over a month early during a rare blizzard in DC. It took two ambulances to get my mother to the hospital.

    When Christmas came, my mother had to leave the hospital and she was heartbroken. That is when she noticed all the other babies in incubators had angels flying over their insulated beds while I had a little red-haired clown over mine. Yes, I was born with red hair. But it made her laugh and helped her know her baby was in good hands.

    We always think of the nurses who cared enough to make each of those babies an individual and my pediatrician, a Holocaust survivor, who adopted all her patients as family since she had none herself.

    Made maple praline fudge, chocolate too! Please help me get rid of it!

    Peace, Julie

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  5. Carol, what a story on the power of community! Yep, I got choked up too!

    Peace, Julie

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  6. Carol,

    What a beautiful story about the true Christmas spirit. Actually, a big lump is lodged in my throat and I'm ready to cry.

    Thanks for starting out the comments with a powerful example of how Christ works through his people. Such a special school. Such great teachers, including your parents.

    Your story also drives home the point that God always gives us more than we ask for or can ever imagine.

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  7. KC,

    Sounds as if you have the Global Christmas Spririt with your outreach to India! Way to spread the message of Christ's love to those in a far off land.

    You mentioned running into the people you've helped in heaven. A dear friend of mine is convinced we'll have a special bond in the next life with all those for whom we've prayed. I love that thought. So, yes, you probably will see some of the people your donations have helped. Wonder if the lambs and chickens will be there, as well! :)

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  8. Virginia,

    You are definitely a writer!!! Whoo-hoo!

    You wrote: "Sometimes I feel like we're drowning in lights and tinsel, when it should be stars and straw."

    Very nice! May I quote you?

    Ah, guess I already did. :)

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  9. Maple praline fudge! Oh, Julie, you're spoiling us! Thank you!

    How hard for your Mama to leave you in the hospital! But yes, seeing the love poured out by the nursing staff and the special doctor must have helped.

    I've been in some of those DC/VA snow storms...everything shuts down! Glad she made it to the hospital in time.

    My son was born in Kirksville, Missouri, and the drifts from the snow plows were about six feet high when hubby and I slowly made it to the hospital that cold, dark Christmas night. I almost arrived too late. :)

    And you have an Easter baby! Another very special day to be born.

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  10. Wow, Debby, what a beautiful post, and I love your family’s tradition. Thank you so much for sharing.

    When I was a child we would load up the car with gifts and the Christmas candy my Dad makes every year and head out to my grandparents’ farm. All the way out we would sing Christmas carols, but my brother and I kept our eyes to the fields. I don’t know how it started, but we had a game that whoever could yell “I see the big red barn” first won. Still not sure what the prize was except the sheer joy of besting a sibling, but even in the middle of Away in the Manger we’d shout it, loud and proud. Then we’d gather with my Mom’s side of the family (she had 4 sisters and 1 twin brother, their spouses and our one cousin). After visiting and playing for a while (it was loud and crazy and I’m not sure anyone ever knew what anyone else was saying) we’d all head into the family room where we’d sing the secular Christmas carols first. One that we always sang was Silver Bells, and because their last name was Schaper (shopper) we’d have to stress the line “As the shoppers rush home with their treasures.” Then from the time each of us could read it was the tradition that one of us kids (my brother, cousin or me) would read the Nativity story from Luke and Matthew from the announcement to Elizabeth that she would give birth to John the Baptist to the flight of Joseph, Mary and Jesus into Egypt. Then the child who read the story would pray and then we would all sing many of the true Christmas carols. Christmas day they’d all come into town for dinner at our house and we’d continue the fun.

    Now we’re down from about 20 to 6 and the farm has long been sold. But we’re still loud and talk over each other and we still sing carols before I read the Nativity story and carols after and then spend the evening laughing over those wonderful Christmas memories as we create new ones.

    --Kirsten
    kanavyhist[at]aol[dot]com

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  11. Ah Debby, I love your traditions. How unique to go to the closed doors because don't we all close our doors (hearts) without even knowing it sometimes?

    What a powerful visual for your children to have grown up with. And I bet they are attuned to their "doors" because of that.

    Carol, my, my, what a blessing for your family. And for us because you shared.

    I am excited about seeing all my family and friends in heaven. I have seen so many times here on earth, how the unseen have been with me. I think we will be surprised at how intertwined we are.

    You all have been such a blessing for me.

    Thanks for the all the Christmas treats all of you. I'm enjoying them with my coffee this morning.

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  12. Oh my.

    You got me teary eyed. Brat. Don't you know how emotional I get????

    'Specially at Christmas and Easter?

    Lovely, Deb. You made my heart sing.

    Thank you for that.

    And I love quiche even if real men don't.

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  13. Oh, Carol...

    That's a Chicken Soup for the Soul, honey.

    Oh my stars.

    Drat.

    Something in my eye again, no doubt. Right now I don't like you or Deb because the little ones are thinking I'm totally whacked with tears at the keyboard.

    Oh mylanta. Bless you for sharing that story.

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  14. Debby, my friend! Loved your story. It just made me feel good. And your Joseph is indeed special! We read the nativity story every year also on Christmas Eve with my mother. It's a very special time I look forward to.
    Thanks for sharing. I miss you!

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  15. Kirsten,

    What beautiful memories of Christmas past. I could see all of you singing and reading from scripture. You grew up experiencing Christmas as it should be celebrated, IMHO!

    Your story warmed my heart!

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  16. Sandra,

    Lovely mention of those who have gone before us. Yes, I feel their support often. We are one family, aren't we.

    Hugs to you and yours this Christmas! Where will you celebrate? In your RV at some beautiful campsite overlooking water? I still think of the photos you posted in your Seekerville blog. No wonder you're such a peace-filled woman...you surround yourself with the beauty of God's creation!

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  17. Oh my, Debby! What lovely Christmas traditions! I felt the Advent season drape over me and yes, encourage me to meet with old friends this season to swap stories.

    Or just catch up.

    Beautiful stories everyone, I can't wait to drop in through the day to read more.

    Fudge! I love it!

    Merry Christmas

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  18. Okay, people, what's with all the waterworks this morning -- you're killing me -- I'm on my third Kleenex!!

    Seriously, Deb, this is an incredibly touching post, and Carol, YOU owe me two Kleenex, girl -- WONDERFUL story!!

    K.C., I TOTALLY agree with you, Deb and Deb's friend who is "convinced we'll have a special bond in the next life with all those for whom we've prayed."

    In fact, my story involves that very thing, not during Christmas but one night when I was driving home very late on Highway 30, the podunk highway I traveled for years on my way home from work. This particular night I was crabby and tired and prone to a temper back then, so when some "idiot" cut me off on the highway that night, my B.C. (before Christ) M.O. was to fume and scream and speed like a demon to catch them, so I could give them a dirty look or worse. But as a Christian, I had slowly trained myself to respond differently in situations like that (some of the times successful, some of the times not) by immediately taking my foot off the gas pedal and hissing out praises to God (even though I sure didn't want to) and then praying for God to bless that "idiot" through gritted teeth.

    Well, this particular night has been etched in my memory because when I took my foot off the gas pedal and started praying for this guy who just cut me off, in my mind's eye I saw myself in heaven, with all these people coming up to me, hugging and thanking me. "Who are they, Lord?" I asked, and He promptly replied, "These are the people you wanted to run down on Highway 30 but prayed for instead. Your prayers are part of the reason they are here, and they just wanted to say 'thank you.'" Trust me, I balled like a baby that night ... just like I am now over these wonderfully inspirational stories and post. Thanks, Deb, for starting my day off with a heart of gratitude for the goodness of God!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  19. Debby, I love your tradition of knocking on closed doors and can imagine when your Joseph was born how you identified with Mary's labor and delivery of Jesus amidst the hustle and bustle of Bethlehem.

    Carol and Julie, your stories touched me. Thanks for sharing everyone.

    Merry Christmas!
    Janet

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  20. What beautiful stories! I've used up the box of Kleenex on my desk!!
    When I was a child, through my senior year in high school, my mom would start buying small gifts and small items from Avon in September. At Christmas, we would put together "goody bags" with these items plus baked goods that my mom made and I would distribute these gifts to all the elderly women in our neighborhood - about 6 or 7 women. It meant so much to them, but I loved doing it. It taught me that it is more "blessed to give than to receive."

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  21. Debby, how special that you have a Christmas baby. Our daughter was due December 21, but she was in no hurry. Our one and only is a New Year's baby.

    Between Christmas, our wedding anniversary on December 19, and our daughter's birthday, this is a festive time of year for our family. However, my personal Christmas high happened last year when I received an offer of representation from my Dream Agent on the eve of Christmas Eve. The only thing that could top that would be getting my first contract for Christmas. =)

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  22. Julie,

    what a Hwy 30 story... LOVE it!

    Yep - I think so Debby and friend (and Julie)... and maybe the critters too.

    Surely the Creator of all has provided for them too?

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  23. Hey, Debby! Those are such sweet stories! You have such a wonderful heart. :-)

    Oh, wow, I just read CarolM's comment and now the tears are flowing! Thanks for that cry, Carol!!! LOL! Sweet. :-)

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  24. Julie L, you made me laugh through my tears, girl! All those people on Hwy 30 you wanted to run down! Oh my goodness! That was funny! :-) But sweet at the same time.

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  25. Oh, Debby, after all the times we've talked at conferences and on trips together, I don't remember hearing about Joseph's birth!! What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing.

    One of my favorite Christmas gifts ever was my first perfume. It was from my dad. I was fairly young, and I felt so grown up. Like a real young lady! I still think of that when I smell lemons. :)

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  26. Debby that is so beautiful.
    I'm humbled by the way you keep focused on Christ at Christmas time. We don't do that nearly so well.

    I used to write and direct the Sunday School Christmas Program at our church. Usually at some point before the program I'd go in and set things up at night, because the program was at night, and I wanted to see how things looked in the dark. One year in particular the play started in the dark and I added lights one by one, a candle, a star, a decorated tree--it was really a lovely play.
    but I wasn't so sure what it would look like...OFF the paper, you know?

    How much lights did the street lights cast? The exit sign? Was the light enough for stage movements.
    One funny development was that I hadnt' thoguht of the children who were singing solos. On the night of the play, we got all the children in place then extinguished the lights.

    And my soloist...couldn't see the words to the song. she didn't have it memorized. We had taped music and a child had turned that on, the out went the lights, totallly, as planned.

    Oops.

    But my sound tech (nickname for the kid who had to push the button on the tape player) hurried over and clicked on a light on the podium the singer was by and all was well.

    So I went in after dark and had the church to myself and worked my way through all the stages of adding lights.
    I was just so aware of the holiness of that church, the silence, the lights as I ran through the play in my head about how Jesus brought light into the world.
    That's not really a family tradition, though me directing that play was a tradition for about a decade, but it was a really precious moment when I got to be very close to the presence of God.

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  27. Oh, man, y'all have me crying as well! What great stories.

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  28. I have a Christmas story, but it's not about traditions. It's about God's blessing.

    When I was 20 yrs. old and home from college for the holidays my mother told me we weren't going to my aunt and uncle's house because my aunt had hurt her back. Usually we travelled two hours north to their country house which was just like a Currier and Ives painting. It was always lots of fun with my cousins and there was always tons of snow.

    So I was disappointed. I stayed at home with my parents having a quiet Christmas day. Then right before dinner my father had a massive heart attack. We rushed him to the hospital where it was touch and go for a long time. Two months later he finally came home.

    Although it was a horrible Christmas, we were blessed because we lived only 10 minutes away from one of the country's best hospitals. My cousins lived quite a distance from a hospital, so I often wonder if we would've gotten my father there in time.

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  29. Ruthy, you spread the joy of Christmas everyday!

    Mamas and Daddys in New York are so lucky to have you caring for their precious little ones. I'm sure you see Christ in each tiny face.

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  30. Lindi,

    Miss you, too, dear! I'm sending Christmas hugs to you on the wings of angels...

    In fact, hugs are going out to everyone in Seekerville today.

    Hope you all can feel the love.

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  31. Wouldn't it be fun to have a giant Seekerville Webcam!

    Is that possible?

    Tina?

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  32. Draped in Advent, Audra? Very nice. Love the visual. I see a star shining over your shoulder and a very pregnant Mary on a donkey led by Joseph heading to Bethlehem.


    Oh my stars, as our own dear Ruthy would say!

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  33. Oh, Julie, good story. Thanks for sharing. I DO feel the love.

    How good our God is to give you such a delicious insight into the next life.

    Next time I drive to Atlanta and someone cuts me off, I'll use the Julie Lessman technique and cover him (Isn't it ALWAYS a man? Sorry Walt and Vince.) with prayer. :)

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  34. Hi Janet,
    Actually this blog dovetails with your wonderful post earlier this week on Christmas tradition. I had planned to highlight tradition more in my piece until I read yours. I couldn't compete with Grandma's quilt and the antique decorations. Still thinking of your lovely home decorated with love for Christmas.

    Hug your family for me! Hug hubby! Have him hug you for me, too!

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  35. Edwina,
    Lovely story. Your mama was/is a special lady and you are so her daughter!

    How blessed the seniors in your neighborhood were back then to have the special Christmas gifts and the love that went with them.

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  36. Keli, I'm feeling some Christmas tingles...let us know if you get a phone call! :)

    A New Year's baby is exciting. Fireworks and bubbly!

    You were married on Dec 19th! Do tell more...we want details! How did you survive wedding prep and Christmas?

    December is busy for us, as well. My hubby's birthday is this Friday and my son-in-law's is tomorrow.

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  37. Merry Christmas, Melanie!

    I bet you and yours will have a special Christmas this year. Sending lots of love to Alabama.

    Are you as cold as we are in Georgia?

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  38. Missy,

    What a sweet memory of receiving your first perfume from your dad. The first love of your life, right?

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  39. Debby, we lived in Germany when our New Year's baby was born, and there really were fireworks--lots of 'em. My hubby had to drive me to the hospital at midnight on New Year's Eve when the Germans light off zillions of fireworks in the streets. We felt like we were traveling through a war zone. Talk about memorable. =)

    Our December 19th wedding was truly a Christmas wedding. My attendants wore red velvet dresses. We used real poinsettias as our decorations and fabric ones in the bouquets and boutonnières. At the reception, two of my teacher hubby's high school students accompanied the pianist, playing Christmas carols.

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  40. Beautiful story, Mary. Ten years of Christmas plays! You deserve sainthood! :)

    Think of all the people blessed by those productions. Your little actors and stagehands, but also the families who watched with pride from the audience.

    As always, Mary, your work produces such good fruit.

    Loved your comment about feeling the Lord in the empty church.

    Those quiet moments in the midst of all the hustle and bustle often touch us the most, don't they?

    If I may segue...I was at church this morning and visited with a dear, dear older gentleman who just lost his wife. He's trying to be brave, but he misses her so much. We talked about how Christmas can be bittersweet filled with joy but also sorrow when we can't be with loved ones either because of death or distance.

    Please remember Frank, who mourns for his beautiful Ruby Grace, in your prayers.

    Also our brave service members deployed far from home.

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  41. Directing those plays was a wonderful experience.

    Downside: I think I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from it.

    Huge gaps, repressed memory, shaky hands, nightmares when I can sleep at all.

    Hair trigger temper and weeping episodes.

    But except for that it was a wodnerful experience.

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  42. Also I got several of them published (four). My first paycheck ever for a published work.

    Three of them are still available in a book called Christmas Treasures which is attached to my name on Amazon.

    But there may be a speck too much of the ol' Connealy wit in them. It would probabaly break up your church so be warned.

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  43. Cara,

    What a wonderful story about God's providence. He was certainly watching out for your dad that Christmas long ago. So glad he was able to return home to be with you and your mom.

    My father had a heart attack on December 18, 1994, and survived until Jan 9. My mother had died much earlier, actually on Dec 27. Dad had remarried, and his wife and I kept vigil at the hospital. Needless to say, it was a very different Christmas that year, but the Lord was with us through it all.

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  44. Keli,

    Red velvet dresses for the bridesmaids, poinsettias, Christmas carols! Sounds like a fairy tale wedding that certainly deserves to be featured in one of your books someday! How spectacular and how special!

    I lived in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and recall all the fireworks on New Years. Bet your hubby was stressed trying to get you to the hospital on time. Where were you stationed?

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  45. Mary, our resident playwright!

    Today, a church production, tomorrow Broadway!

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  46. You know grandchildren like to appear in plays, Mary. You may be called back for more performances.

    Encore Productions with Mary Connealy and her Grand Babes!

    I can see it all in lights!

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  47. Debby, we spent four and a half years living in Fürth by Nürnberg. My hubby was a civilian, working for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools teaching the children of Army personnel at Nürnberg American High School. We lived there from 1989-1993, so we witnessed the end of the Cold War up close and personal, as well as watched the deployment of the troops stationed at our Army post at the outset of the first Gulf War. Those years were some of the best I've had.

    Did you enjoy your time in Germany? Do you miss the festive Christmas markets as much as Gwynly and I do?

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  48. I loved living in Germany. The people were wonderful. Aschaffenburg is in Bavaria, where everyone was so friendly. I took language lessons the entire time I was there (3 years), but my grammar was terrible. The Germans would just smile at my mistakes.

    Loved and miss the Christkindlmarkts!

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  49. What a blessing to have your baby on Christmas Day! :-) One of my best Christmas memories is of Christmas at my Grandma's. She always had someone read the Christmas story right out of the Bible and we had Candy Cane cookies. :-)

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  50. Debby, how neat that you had such a great experience in Germany, as did my hubby and I. Like you, I studied German, but foreign language isn't my forte. I like to say I speak pigeon German.

    Our college daughter is a German major. She and my hubby love the language and would probably be happy living out their days in Germany. I'm not as adventurous, although I'm glad I had the experience living there when I was younger. Do you ever go back for visits?

    Have any of the rest of you Seekers and Seeker visitors been to Germany or another country and witnessed their Christmas traditions? Do you incorporate aspects of another culture in your celebrations?

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  51. Keli, I visited Europe for about 4 months years ago. My father came over and we went through Germany and visited the city of Kassel in Hesse where my grandmother was born. What a beautiful country.

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  52. What a wonderful post, sweet Debby. I so enjoyed reading about your family's special Christmas traditions--and how extra-special that the Lord presented you with a baby ON Christmas Day! ~ I have a copy of Christmas Peril and LOVE both stories! May you and your family have a very blessed Christmas. ~ Hugs, Patti Jo :)

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  53. I am grateful to be considered to receive this book in this giveaway:)

    Many Blessing and Smiles,
    chakasa58 at gmail dot com

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  54. P.S. Ooops! So sorry Debby---I meant to share this little story: When my son Steven was 3 months old, my Church asked if I would be Mary and Steven would be the Baby Jesus for the choir's Christmas Cantata. All I had to do was sit in front of the choir and hold my baby as they performed the Cantata. My pastor's wife had wrapped a sheet around me and over my head, so I'd look more "authentic". I was rather nervous because I felt certain the music would prevent Steven from sleeping (the choir was only about 8 feet behind us!). And I knew I'd feel so awkward and embarrassed if my baby began crying and I had to make an exit (and would probably end up tripping over the sheet!). However, the Lord had everything under control that Sunday evening, and my precious baby slept soundly throughout the entire Cantata (which wasn't brief!). The congregation was amazed and of course I was thrilled--not only that my son slept but also that he was able to have the role of the Baby Jesus in the Cantata. I'll always treasure that very special time. ~ Blessings, Patti Jo

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  55. Tina F,

    Candy Cane cookies sound yummy! Thanks for sharing that beautiful memory of going to your grandmother's house.

    I called Mrs. Claus and told her about the special cookies. She baked some for us today so help yourself.

    Hope they remind you of your grandmother!

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  56. Hi, Charlotte!

    You're in the drawing.

    Merry Christmas!

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  57. Patti Jo,

    How very special to have your son be Baby Jesus in the Cantata. Only three months old...what a lovely sight that must have been for all who attended the performance. I know you made a beautiful Mary, as well.

    My eldest daughter was an angel in a church performance on Christmas Eve. I'll never forget how she glowed that night as if with a heavenly radiance.

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  58. Awww! Didn't mean to make everyone cry!

    /sets Kleenex out/

    It really was a wonderful year in many ways - the last we had with Mom.

    That was also the year a cat got trapped in the garage, ran inside the next morning and somehow knocked the kitchen Christmas decorations into the sink and wound up chasing our [small] dog around the house...

    Poor pup was so sad when she realized Mom wasn't coming home a few months later. She moped for weeks.

    Anyway ;)... Julie had me giggling because I so can't see it. I mean I can, but the Julie we see here is so sweet... I don't know that I've ever prayed for the guy who cut me off, but I may have to start trying it...

    Cara - wow! So glad you stayed home!

    And I'M DONE!!!! for the semester!!! Grades turned in and everything. /crossing my fingers for no students emailing 'but you missed this score!' after telling them repeatedly to bring it to my attention no later than today if there was an issue/ We'll see if I'm so lucky...

    Back to work :).

    Captcha: prosewed - something I can't do but my mom always sewed lots of our clothes... actually found one of my skirts the other day...

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  59. Debby, what a beautiful, meaningful post! And I've enjoyed reading everyone's personal stories in the comments--truly inspiring!

    Keli, we went with a church group on a tour of Germany several summers ago. It was one of the Oberamergau Passion Play years, probably the one before last (they're every 10 years). It was amazing!

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  60. Carol,
    Thanks for adding to your opening story that touched us all. Sorry that your mom passed away shortly thereafter. I was hoping she had lived many more years.

    Someone mentioned it should appear in a Chicken Soup addition. I've published a couple stories in their publications, and hope to have a blog on the how-to of selling to them in the not too distant future. So, stay tuned...

    Glad you're finished with teaching and can take a well deserved Christmas break. Enjoy each moment!

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  61. Hi Myra,

    My family and I were lucky enough to be in Germany at the time the Passion Play was performed and were able to get tickets. As I recall, it's put on every 10 years. Amazing, wasn't it?

    Three hours long! There's an 1 1/2 hour break for lunch in the middle.

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  62. Let me just say:

    No child of mine was ever picked to be Baby Jesus.

    Nope.

    That says so much, doesn't it???? Like they KNEW how much trouble those kids were!!!!

    ;)

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  63. Julie equates sweet.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    Our little spitfire Julie....

    laughing in upstate.

    Missy's sweet.

    Julie's passionate.

    Now there's sweetness there, don't get me wrong.

    But do not cross her.

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  64. Ruthy -

    Okay - I'll give ya that. Maybe sweet wasn't the right word. Maybe... just not cursing? Not hissing prayers out under her breath? I dunno... Still just doesn't strike me as right... Or maybe I just haven't been around long enough ;).

    Ugh - winter weather advisory for tonight. Not near as bad as many places but too bad for me to like it :p.

    And have 4 grades that need fixing... 2 are totally my fault, weird flukey mixup [and I caught one of them after the other one emailed me and I double checked]. the other two are a combo fault - I've been telling them for weeks to make sure there's no missing grades online but now that grades are turned in they found one... /sigh/ Ah well. Will turn in the forms tomorrow most likely to get them changed...

    And on the upside... Our babysitter GAVE us another screen for our in-car DVD player :). We bought a set after Thanksgiving - 2 screens, 2 DVD players - can play the same movie or separate. Now we can go on our trip this weekend [the one from yesterday] with two screens in one car and one in the other. =D Gotta love friends :).

    Off to bake DiGiornio - it's what passes for fancy around here...

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  65. Debby,
    Christmas traditions get better year by year.
    Merry Christmas to all!
    Janet

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  66. Carol,
    Safe travel! Have a wonderful Christmas!

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  67. K.C. and MELANIE ... Thanks, guys, I'm glad it brought a smile to your face ... it does to me NOW, too, but not then!! :)

    As a matter of fact, DEB, it usually IS a man, I've noticed, and on Highway 30 where I live, it's usually a guy in a pickup with a gun rack visibly displayed, so it's best to keep road rage under control! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  68. CAROL M.-- I thought you were smarter than that, sweetie. Me? Sweet? Maybe NOW that I'm a Christian ... at least more times than not, but behind the wheel of a car??? Uh, not where I shine as a Christian, if you know what I mean!

    And, RUTHY -- honey, you SO have me pegged, girl, which is good because it means you'll only kick butt so far, right?

    I tend to be a reallllly nice person until someone pushes me over the line, then I go for the jugular. Case in point: A job-share partner I once had ordered me NOT to deliver copy to the marketing people. Told me they should pick it up from me instead. But I'm a service-oriented person, so I'd wait till my job-share partner left for the bathroom before I'd deliver my copy. UNTIL the day she caught me and pushed my buttons a bit too far. Suffice it to say that the poor woman didn't have tonsils when I was through, and her eyes were glazed. The poor gal ... never crossed me again and we got along quite nicely after that as I recall. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  69. Maybe I just haven't known you long enough, Julie. But I think I'm going to do my best to stay on your good side ;).

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  70. Merry Christmas to you, Janet K.

    Have a joyous celebration and wishing you much love in the New Year!

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  71. OH MY GOSH. Maple praline fudge.

    RECIPE PLEASE!!!

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  72. Jules, honey, you are such a sweetheart! No matter how you see yourself!

    In Seekerville, we know the true Julie Lessman, and she's a doll! :)

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  73. Hi Tina, dear. You must have worked late. Good thing we saved some fudge for you! Enjoy!

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  74. Amazing stories, all.

    Deb, love the post and the photos. Wonderful conversation.

    Hugs
    Cheryl

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  75. Debbie,

    Christmas is such a perfect time to show love to others in special ways just like our Father showed us His love with asking His Son to come and His Son's love for us by being obedient.

    We adopt a family each year and fulfill their needs...and at least some of their wants.

    Last year (and this year also) is a grandmother who is raising her four grandchildren and they are the best behaved young people you'd ever want to meet. The oldest who is 16 wants to be a minister.

    They give us more joy at Christmas than we give them, but isn't it fantastic that God sometimes let's us be His arms to wrap around others and give them a hug?

    Merry Christmas.

    Sandy

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  76. Beautiful, heart-warming stories.

    please enter me in the drawing.

    jean kinsey

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  77. Beautiful, heart-warming story
    Please enter me in drawing
    jean kinsey

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  78. Beautiful, heartwarming story.
    please enter me in drawing
    jean

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  79. Deb, I hate to contradict you, but the Passion Play lasts ALL DAY, more like 7 hours, with lunch in the middle! It was quite an experience, I'll tell you that! And interesting to be watching a play that's entirely in German while trying to follow the dialogue in the English translation booklet they give you!

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  80. Well written.
    A Christmas child is very special. Thanks for the story, I too was due to have my only son on Christmas day, but that wasn't to happen, he was born 2 weeks later. Merry Christmas.

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  81. Sometimes I wonder how do traditions begin in the family?I don't remember when this crazy one began for me, but I never spent money on myself when raising the children and cheap underwear was in my wardrobe. When our finances changed and the children grew and had children I began buying beautiful panties and rolling them up in empty toilet paper rolls. It is hilarious as the girls( 15 of them) put them on their heads and we take great stylish pictures. Sign me up for a book, I know this is not a spiritual tradition...Oh well!

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  82. We too have a few family traditions that my grown children continue to do with their own families now. I loved reading about yours. Very sweet reminder about keeping our hearts open.

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  83. One Tradition I love is to go to senior citizen living-assisted homes and carrying little gifts to the residents who are so grateful for me spending a little time with them. Alot of them are placed in these homes and forgotten. They love Christmas, too.It's a very special time I look forward to.
    Rebecca
    rbooth43(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  84. I know I'm a day late here, but I couldn't resist after reading all the wonderful stories.

    My story is of my Grandpa Wilford's last Christmas, 1988. Grandpa had cancer, had been fighting it for about 18 mos. He and Grandma had spent Thanksgiving in Greece, where there was a doctor who had some kind of great new treatment. It didn't help Grandpa Will.

    By Christmas, he was so weak he could not stand, or even sit up for very long. He used a walker, and he nearly wore himself out coming back and forth down the hall from his bedroom in order to be part of Christmas.

    After a little of this back and forth, someone (I don't remember who) said, "Hey why don't we all go to the bedroom and open presents?" So Grandma, her four children, two of their spouses, and nine grandchildren (I think there were nine of us) trailed down the hall and crammed into Grandma and Grandpa's bedroom (thankfully, it was a rather large bedroom). It is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

    As an adult, I appreciate so much more how much it meant to Grandpa for us to make him the center of our celebration, and I am so glad that we did.

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  85. I love your birth story, and the reminder that we're not in control. Our daughter's due date was New Year's Eve, the date I had miscarried the year before. When she came on the day of the Boston Tea Party (Dec. 16), we were thrilled.

    Nothing comes compares to the memories of rocking her near the tree that Christmas. Everything I'd ever studied about Jesus' birth became more real. To think that God incarnate was held in Mary's arms . . . what a plot!

    Bless you all this Christmas,

    Gail Kittleson gkittleson@omnitelcom.com

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  86. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraDecember 17, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    What a wonderful tradition and a great story about when you had your second child. Thank you for the reminder that Christmas isn't about the baking and decorating and making things perfect. It's about how God gave the world the only gift we ever truly need. His son. Merry Christmas!!

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