We all have a Christmas stories. They reside in our memories and hearts. Some of them are as fictitious as a fisherman’s tale about the one that got away, but all of us have some stories. We have them just as sure as, “Old Marley was as dead as door-nail.” Take time this year to revisit the original. The one true and enduring Christmas story. The one some would just as soon be wiped clean from our hearts. Do yourself, your children, and your grandchildren a great service this year. Before sharing your tales of Christmas lore, share with them the original.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 3and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. – Luke 1:26-38 …
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. – Luke 2:1-21
By my best recollection, it was around the Christmas of 1962. I wanted a sled. I knew the chances of getting one were not good. Even at the ripe old age of 10, I knew there probably was not money enough. Other boys had them. The nice ones I had seen at the Coal Company Store. But costly things like bicycles and sleds never turned up around our house at Christmas time. I reckoned even Santa did not deliver COD.
We lived up a hollow (holler if you are from these parts) in southern West Virginia’s Wyoming County. Locally, we called it Skin Fork. The road winding up from the mouth of the hollow was quite steep. In those days, it was still a hard packed dirt road. In winter, school snow days were common if you lived up the holler. Cinder trucks that cindered the main hard roads did not bother coming up our way. This was fine with us kids because the road and lack of traffic on it made for a great sled run. That is if one had a sled or could manage a turn on someone else’s. There was always the thrill of blasting down the pasture hill uncontrollably on a sheet of roofing tin, along with several other boys, always having to bail out just before catastrophe – like the barbed wire fence at the end of the pasture just before the creek.
It was the week before Christmas, and my Dad had been out back in the little smoke house tinkering much of the day. This was common for Dad as he was never one to sit still. Idleness was not one of his attributes. After a while, he called out, “Davidson.” He called me that sometimes and I will never know why. I went to see what he wanted. I expected maybe he wanted me to bring him some coffee that was always warming on the corner of Mom’s wood burning cook stove. The one she preferred to the electric one that sat in the other corner of the kitchen.
When I got back to where Dad was, he pointed to something sitting on the floor of the smoke house and said, “There you go.” It was a sled. Now it was not a store bought one, at least not this time around. Dad had found, from who knows where, a metal sled frame and runners. He had cleaned the runners until they were smooth and shiny and had replaced all of the wood including the steering bar.
I thanked Dad and immediately headed for the road that was currently a sled run where others were riding their shiny new Coal Company Store sleds down the hill. I garnered a few snickers, but I did not care. I had my own sled to ride this time. We were lined up about five abreast. Someone suggested we should have a race. I will not delve into his motives. Someone yelled go and we went. I pushed with several swimming like strokes to get going, grabbed the steering bar and put my head down. Glancing right and left, I began to notice that I was inching ahead. Then in a steeper section of the run I shot ahead like I was fired out of a cannon. I was looking backwards and feeling great just when I missed the turn at the bottom of the hill and headed for the creek. Frozen jeans and all, I went back up that hill time and again. I do not even remember what I got for Christmas that year, but I remember that sled and my Dad.
Most of that story is true.
From my family to yours, have a Blessed Christmas and may your dreams be realized in the New Year.