Happy New Year to all! It's hard to believe it is 2015. I wish all of you and yours the very best for the year to come.
I'm planning on doing another post today reflecting on 2014 and pondering 2015, but for this post I'd like to finish up my 'Catching up on Christmas' series. I suspect most of you are ready for that. There's no real central theme here, but I will try to capture some meanigful thoughts.
First an observation: Another view of life through the eyes of the grandchildren. After all the gifts were opened and we all just enjoying the time together the girls got out things with which to play. I was intrigued with their choices: Colored wooden blocks and a 20 year old children's tea set. Baby dolls that belonged to our girls with a few old "Rescue Heroes" on the side were also in the mix. To be fair, many of the new things had been packed up and much of what De and I bought them were educational toys and books to be used for homeschooling. All that being said, the toys that were most most played with were the ones that allowed them employ their own creativity the most. In a world where most things for kids come with a built in storyline, I found that to be encouraging.
Not be stuck on being a doting grandparent, but I was struck by another example of how important it is to allow the young ones a chance to do 'real' things. A year ago, when the girls were first coming to with their Daddy as guests when he and D2 were dating, a favorite thing was to have Papa cook a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast with some 'cutie' orange slices on the side. I've posted before that Heaven, the older of the two, is learning to help with the breakfast making and LOVES to do so. She's now to the point were I get the things out (eggs, butter, a bowl, small frying pan, etc.) and she does it all herself under Papa's supervision. She also makes sure she gets to do the dishes after, which in our house is scrubbing the pans and loading the rest in the dishwasher. The only exception is that Papa lights the stove and peals the cuties. I'm not ashamed to say her simple accomplishments make for a proud Papa.
No discussion of Christmas should end without a taking the time to remember the reason for it all: The advent of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. For many, many years our Church has done a Christmas Eve candle light service. We try to do new things each year, but there is always music and singing, a short message, and concludes with the lighting of candles that each person (something like age 10 and up) gets as they come in. This year one the new things was a short, simply illustrated video with Paul Harvey reading "The Man and the Birds". The original author is unknown, but Mr. Harvey regularly included it in his radio program on or around Christmas. It was first time I remember hearing it and it has made a clear impression on me. I include it here hoping you will enjoy as much as I.
Our protagonist is not a scrooge. In fact he was a kind, and
quite decent, mostly good man. Honest in his dealings and generous to
his family, he was commonly received as a man of good values.
he could never bring himself to believe the story of Christ. The
incarnation, the God born a man by virgin birth… It just didn’t make
sense to him, and he was too honest a man to feign devotion to a story
he could not accept. The story of Jesus, God coming to Earth as a man,
simply didn’t add up in his mind.
And so one
Christmas, feeling his pretense of devotion had thoroughly run its
course, he told his wife he would not be going with the family to
“I’m sorry to upset you,” he explained, “but I
would simply feel like a hypocrite.” He told her that he would stay at
home, and wait for them to return from Midnight Mass.
after the family had left a snowstorm moved into the area. Settling in
his chair with a cup of coffee, the man began to relax for the evening.
too long, the soft white noise of the steady snow was interrupted by a
loud thud. Then another, and another. At first the man concluded someone
must have been throwing snowballs against his living room window, but
upon peering out from behind the blinds his yard appeared quite empty.
venturing outside, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the
falling snow, just beneath his living room window. Having been caught in
the storm the desperate birds were trying in vain to fly through the
large landscape window.
Being the decent man that he
was, he knew he couldn’t leave the stranded birds to freeze in the night
storm, and resolved to find a solution. It was just then that he
thought of the barn where his children stabled their pony. It would be
warm, sheltered, and safe… If he could get the birds into it.
he put on a jacket and galoshes, and began trekking through the snow to
the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on the light; but the
birds did not fly in.
Thinking that food might entice
them, he hurried back to the house and retrieved some bread crumbs.
Sprinkling the crumbs in the snow, the man made a trail to the warmly
lit doorway of the stable.
But still, the birds vainly fought the cold beneath his living room window.
tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by waving his
arms and walking around them. But nothing worked. As he approached, they
scattered in almost every direction, and as soon as he retreated back
they resumed their hopeless attempts to fly through his living room
The man realized that the birds were simply
too afraid of him. To them, after all, he was a giant and terrifying
creature. ‘If only I could think of some way to let them know that they
can trust me – that I’m not trying to hurt them. But how?”
Any move he made simply confused, and frightened them.
“If only I could let them know I want them to be safe,” he said allowed. “If only I could be a bird, and
mingle with them and speak their language, I could let them know that I
mean them no harm. I could show them the way to the safe warm barn,
but...” realization seemed to wash over him, “but I guess I would have to be one of them; so that they could see, and hear, and understand.”
that moment the church bells began to ring through the dense cold. 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
We have ALL been blessed!