Long Ago Christmas

I was a privileged child. I had no idea there was a depression on, or that my family had money problems.

True, we had moved all over from one relative's home to another in my 5 years, but we had finally settled down in Virginia where I went to school and took piano lessons. I was loved and I suppose pretty spoiled, the "only child."

It must have been my 8th Christmas. My mother took me shopping in Washington, and we were crossing the street between two big department stores. Hurrying people almost separated the two of us, but she held my hand tightly and as we started in one door behind the Salvation Army Santa I stooped down to pick up a pack of chewing gum.

Mother said the usual, and I knew better than to pick up dirty trash from the ground, but how exciting it would be to have a whole 5 pieces of gum, from a brand-new green package! And inside the door, scurrying up the aisle between all the Christmas decorations, I opened my fist and found a five dollar bill.

Five dollars! All my own, to spend any way I pleased!

What did I want most?
I think that was the year of the Shirley Temple doll craze, and that's what I wanted most. I didn't know how much Shirley cost, and Santa couldn't afford it so we never found out.

My mother got a new nightgown and my father got a pair of pajamas for Christmas.

And that's one of my childhood Christmases in my memory. Other years and memories have disappeared but that one remains vivid, the year I had all the money to spend, to buy whatever was precious to me, and I bought gifts for the most precious people in my life.

My Job And Yours

We had traveled from the East Coast—across the Blue Ridge and the Appalachians, through the dry Midwest, the High Plains and the brown grazing lands of the cattle ranches and through the high Rockies. Even the Rockies looked barren, not green with evergreens but dotted with rocks and small bushes. I was anxious to see California, and the Pacific, and my son—and to get out of that car!

Down below, in a break between two small ridges, appeared some small green trees, and as we drove on they became larger and more frequent. We could see the trees clearly and we followed that green line until we drove alongside them. The map told us that they grew next to a river, and that we were close to Lake Tahoe.

How refreshing to see those trees, and to receive their message that not all the world was dry and hot and windy. They just stood there for our reassurance. They were symbols of life and God’s care and nourishment.

Just so are we to stand—to reassure other people. We are not all called to teach, or preach, or to make a loud statement. Many times we may reach a low point, but God’s River will nourish us. All the time others may be traveling along Life’s Way through the dry and hot desert, looking for they-know-not-what. Our job may be simply to stand firm on his promises and show them the Way.