Look For The
Gold Slippers This Christmas
|If you are like most people in this area, it usually takes
some special moment to put you into the Christmas Spirit. It could be the
first snowfall; putting up your Christmas lights; shopping for presents;
the first carolers; or sending out your Christmas cards. You know what I
mean. We donít have that distinctive Christmas feeling all year long,
but most of us tend to get into the "Christmas Spirit" at this
time of year. What did it for you? Or are you one of those for whom the
Christmas Bell has not yet rung?
You may be surprised at what eventually sends you into the Christmas
mood. Often it sneaks up on you and could be something as
"insignificant" as what occurs in the following story that I
found on the internet. The story was written by a lady out shopping just
before Christmas, but it could be any one of us.
"It was only four days before Christmas. The spirit of the season
hadnít yet caught up with me, even though cars packed the parking lot of
our local discount store. Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts
and last minute shoppers jammed the aisles. Why did I come today? I
My feet ached almost as much as my head. My list contained names of
several people who claimed they wanted nothing but I knew their feelings
would be hurt if I didnít buy them anything. Buying for someone who had
everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying
anything but fun. Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute
items and proceeded to the long checkout lines. I picked the shortest but
it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute wait.
In front of me were two small children - a boy of about five and a
younger girl. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered
tennis shoes jutted far out in front of his much too short jeans. He
carefully clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy hands. The
girlís clothing resembled her brotherís. Her head was a matted mass of
curly hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She
carried a beautiful pair of shiny, gold house slippers. As the Christmas
music sounded in the storeís stereo system, the girl hummed along,
off-key but happily. When we finally approached the checkout register, the
girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as though
they were a treasure.
The clerk rang up the bill. "That will be $6.09," she said.
The boy laid his crumpled dollars atop the stand while he searched his
pocket for some change. Finally he came up with $3.12.
"I guess we will have to put them back," he bravely said.
"We will come back some other time, maybe tomorrow."
With that statement a soft sob broke from the little girl. "But
Jesus would have loved these shoes," she cried. "Well, weíll
go home and work some more. Donít cry. Weíll come back," he said.
Quickly I handed $3.00 to the cashier. These children had waited in
line for a long time. And, after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair or
arms came around me and a small voice said, "Thank you lady."
"What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the shoes?"
The boy answered, "Our mommy is sick and going to heaven. Daddy
said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus."
The girl spoke, "My Sunday school teacher said the streets in
heaven are shiny gold, just like these shoes. Wonít mommy be beautiful
walking on those streets to match these shoes?"
My eyes flooded as I looked into her tear streaked face.
"Yes," I answered. "I am sure she will."
Silently I thanked God for using these children to remind me of the
true spirit of giving.
If you havenít yet found the Spirit of Christmas inside you this
year, be on the lookout for that special moment when it will hit you. For
no matter what you situation in life, you will definitely discover the
spirit somewhere, sometime and with someone. Keep looking for your
"gold slippers" and enjoy this Christmas like no other.
|Christmas is my favourite time of the year!
It is also the time of the year I hate the most! I love getting together
with family and friends and enjoying their company over meals, parties and
other festivities. But I hate the commercial aspects of Christmas.
Everybody rushes around the stores trying to buy something to Ďgiveí
to people on their list. In many cases the only objective is to make sure
that you can put some gift under the tree because they are getting you
The ĎPerfect Giftí is so elusive today. However, I came across a
beautiful story the other day which really touched me deeply. I think you
will agree that the story has a powerful message.
Norma Smithís husband, Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning
of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it. You know, the
overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie
for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma - the gifts given in
desperation because you couldnít think of anything else.
Knowing he felt this way, Norma decided one year to bypass the usual
shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. She reached for something special
just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Their son, Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior
level at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a
non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner city church.
The youngsters from the inner city, dressed in sneakers so ragged that
the shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together,
presented a sharp contrast to Kevinís team mates in their spiffy blue
and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began, both Norma and Mike were alarmed to see that the
other team was wrestling without head gear, a kind of light helmet
designed to protect a wrestlerís ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team
obviously couldnít afford. Well, Kevinís team ended up walloping them.
They took every weight class. As each of the boys got up from the mat, he
swaggered around in this tatters with false bravado - a kind of street
pride that couldnít acknowledge defeat.
Mike, seated beside Norma, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one
of them could have won. They have a lot of potential, but losing like this
could take the heart right out of them."
Mike loved kids-all kids. He understood kids in competitive situations,
having coached little league baseball, football and lacrosse. Thatís
when the idea came to Norma for his present.
That afternoon, Norma went to a local sporting goods store and bought
an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to
the inner city church. On Christmas Eve, Norma placed an envelope on the
tree. The note inside told Mike what she had done and that this was her
gift to him. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year
and in each of the succeeding years. For each Christmas, Norma followed
the tradition. One year she sent a group of mentally challenged youngsters
to a hockey game. Another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose
home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas. And so on...
The envelope became the highlight of their Christmas. It was always the
last thing opened on Christmas morning and their children, ignoring their
new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the
envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.
As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but
the envelope never lost its allure.
The year that Mike lost his battle to cancer, Norma was so wrapped up
in grief that when Christmas finally rolled around, she barely got the
tree up. Yet Christmas Eve found her placing an envelope on the tree, and
in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of their children,
unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their
The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with Normaís
and Mikeís grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed
anticipation, watching their fathers take down their envelopes.
Mikeís spirit, like the spirit of Christmas, will always be with the
May all of my readers be fortunate enough to find the Spirit of
Christmas this year, and may it always be with your family!
Do You Still Hear
Listen closely on Christmas Morning
|The older I get the more I find myself understanding the
really great mysteries of life. Itís funny how as children we all marvel
at these mysteries and throughly enjoy the beauty. Take Santa Claus for
example. For some strange reason, many people stop believing in this
wonderful person as they grow out of childhood. Then, for some equally
strange reason, many of us re-discover Santa as we re-discover the truly
important things in life. Itís too bad we get so caught up in the
fast-pace of adult life that our vision gets blurred and we miss out on
that childhood wonderment that we enjoyed so much as young boys and girls.
I leave you with a little story written by Chris Van Allsburg, which I am
sure will become a classic for hundreds of years to come. Enjoy The Polar
"On Christmas Eve many years ago, I lay quietly in my bed. I did
not rustle the sheets. I breathed slowly and silently. I was listening for
a sound - a sound a friend had told me Iíd never hear - the ringing
bells of Santaís sleigh.
"There is no Santa," my friend had insisted, but I knew he
Late that night I did hear sounds, though not of ringing bells. From
outside came the sounds of hissing steam and squeaking metal. I looked
through my window and saw a train standing perfectly still in front of my
I put on my bathrobe and slippers, then tiptoed downstairs and out the
door where the conductor invited me to take a ride on the Polar Express to
the North Pole. The train was filled with other children and we sang and
ate as the train travelled faster and faster northward until we arrived at
a huge city standing alone at the top of the world.
"Itís the North Pole," exclaimed the conductor. "The
elves are gathered at the centre of the city waiting for Santa to give the
first gift of Christmas."
"Who receives the first gift?", we all asked.
"He will choose one of you," said the conductor.
The train came to a stop in the centre of the city where hundreds of
elves were gathered. We all got out and in front of us stood Santaís
sleigh, with the excited reindeer prancing and pacing about, ringing the
silver bells that hung from their harnesses. It was a magical sound, like
nothing I had ever heard. The elves moved apart and Santa Claus appeared.
The elves cheered wildly. He marched over to us and, pointing at me said,
"Letís take this fellow here." He jumped into his sleigh. The
conductor handed me up. I sat on Santaís knee and he asked, "Now,
what would you like for Christmas?"
I knew that I could have any gift I could imagine. But the thing I
wanted most for Christmas was not in Santaís giant bag. What I wanted
more than anything was one silver bell from Santaís sleigh. When I
asked, Santa smiled. Then he gave me a hug and told an elf to cut a bell
from a reindeerís harness. The elf tossed it up to Santa. He stood,
holding the bell high above him, and called out, "The first gift of
Santa handed me the bell and I put it in my bathrobe pocket and got
down off the sleigh. Then Santa roared off into the sky to deliver gifts
around the world. As soon as we were back inside the Polar Express the
other children asked to see the bell. I put my hand in my pocket, but the
only thing I felt was a hole. The bell was gone. It broke my heart to lose
the bell. When the train reached my house, I sadly left the other
children. The conductor shouted, "Merry Christmas", and the
Polar Express let out a loud blast from its whistle and sped away.
The next morning my little sister, Sarah and I opened our presents.
When it looked as if everything had been unwrapped, Sarah found one last
small box behind the tree. It had my name on it. Inside was the silver
bell! There was a note: "Found this on the seat of my sleigh. Fix
that hole in your pocket." signed, Mr. C.
I shook the bell. It made the most beautiful sound my sister and I had
ever heard. But my mother said, "Oh, thatís too bad."
"Yes," said my father, "itís broken."
When Iíd shaken the bell, my parents had not heard a sound.
At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years
passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas
that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though Iíve grown old,
the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe."
This Christmas look into the eyes of a young child soaking in the
beautiful sights and sounds of the season. Think of how much all your
friends and family love you and how much you love them. And as you are
lying snug in your bed on Christmas Eve, listen carefully, and see if you
too can hear, once again, the sweet sound of the sleigh bells.
Wishing All Who Truly Believe A Very Merry Christmas!
Virginia, There is a Santa Claus..."
|Every year at this time, parents are faced
with the question they dread the most. "Is there a Santa Claus?"
There are always children at school who donít believe in the jolly old
St. Nick. These children take great joy in trying to spread doubt among
the younger boys and girls. So, this year, when you are faced with the
question, sit your child down and read to them one of the greatest
classics ever written. You will recognize it as the famous "Virginiaís
Letter". Back in 1897, a young girl named Virginia OíHanlon, of New
York City wrote the following letter to the New York Sun, one of the most
prestigious newspapers in New York.
I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says
"If you see it in ĎThe Suní itís so. Please tell me the truth.
Is there a Santa Claus?
Signed: Virginia OíHanlon
The newspaper assigned Francis P. Church, a veteran newspaperman who
had been with The Sun for twenty years, to answer this seemingly
unanswerable question. His reply is one of the most famous new paper
editorials of all time.
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the
skepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except what they see.
They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little
minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be menís or childrenís, are
little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in
his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured
by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love
and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give
to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the
world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were
no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith, then, no poetry, no
romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment,
except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills
the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!
You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on
Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa
Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but
that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the
world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see
fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but thatís no proof that
they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there
are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the babyís rattle and see what makes the noise inside,
but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man,
nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived,
could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, and romance, can push
aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory
beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing
else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand
years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he
will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
So this Christmas season, let us all remember that "the most real
things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see".
We donít have to see Santa Claus to believe in him and to witness first
hand the glory of the Christmas Spirit. Letís keep Santa Claus alive and
in doing so we can all enjoy the blessings this great season has to offer.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Santa Claus Isnít Real?
|Christmas is the time of year when we
celebrate the birth day of Jesus. The Church is lit with candles for the
Christmas service - the Christ Mass. Carol singers go from house to house.
People kiss under the mistletoe and shake hands as a sign of friendship.
We hang up evergreens in our houses and decorate trees with glittering
ornaments and lights. We have a special Christmas dinner and gather
together with family and friends. And most exciting of all, especially for
the children, we give presents, just as the shepherds and kings gave
presents to the new-born child in Bethlehem, 2000 years ago.
Dutch children do not have to wait until Christmas Day for all of their
presents. On December 6, which is St. Nicholas Day, they are visited by a
kind old gentleman with a long white beard. He is dressed like a bishop in
a long red cape with a mitre on his head and a crook in his hand. He comes
from Spain in a sailing ship where he is greeted in Amsterdam by crowds of
children dressed up in their national costumes.
St. Nicholas rides on a white horse to visit each house where he asks
the parents if their children have been good. One of his attendants writes
down the answer in a book. That night, the children fill their wooden
clogs or shoes with carrots for his horse. They put them beside the big
kitchen stove, or on the window sill. Next morning, good children find the
carrots gone and their shoes filled with sweets and little presents. Very
naughty children find only a bunch of sticks for beating them with.
The first St. Nicholas was a bishop who lived over a thousand years
ago. He once saved the lives of some children, and he was a very good man,
so he became the patron saint of all children.
When the Dutch settlers went to America three hundred years ago, they
spread the tradition of their St. Nicholas, or Santal Klaus as they called
him. That is how we get the name Santa Claus. In America, his white horse
disappeared and he now rides in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.
So, next time someone tells you that Santa Claus doesnít exist, you
can set that person straight. Santa Claus was very real and his spirit
lives on around the world today at Christmas time.
The Doll and a
|I hurried into the local department store to grab some last
minute Christmas gifts. I looked at all the people and grumbled to myself.
I would be in here forever and I just had so much to do. Christmas was
beginning to become such a drag. I wished that I could just sleep through
Christmas. But I hurried the best I could through all the people to the
toy department. Once again I kind of mumbled to myself at the prices of
all these toys. And wondered if the grandkids would even play with them.
I found myself in the doll aisle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a
little boy about 5 holding a lovely doll. He kept touching her hair and he
held her so gently. I could not seem to help myself. I just kept looking
over at the little boy and wondered who the doll was for. I watched him
turn to a woman and he called his aunt by name and said,
"Are you sure I don't have enough money?" She replied a bit
impatiently, "You know that you don't have enough money for it. The
aunt told the little boy not to go anywhere that she had to go get some
other things and would be back in a few minutes. And then she left the
aisle. The boy continued to hold the doll. After a bit I asked the boy who
the doll was for.
He said, "it is the doll my sister wanted so badly for Christmas.
She just knew that Santa would bring it."
I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it.
He said "No, Santa can't go where my sister is" "I have
to give the doll to my Momma to take to her"
I asked him where his sister was. He looked at me with the saddest eyes
and said "She has gone to be with Jesus. My Daddy says that Momma is
going to have to go be with her."
My heart nearly stopped beating. Then the boy looked at me again and
said, "I told my Daddy to tell Momma not to go yet. I told him to
tell her to wait till I got back from the store"
Then he asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would
love to. He pulled out some pictures he had taken at the front of the
store and said, "I want my Momma to take this with her so she don't
ever forget me. I love my Momma so much and I wish she did not have to
leave me. But Daddy says she will need to be with my sister."
I saw that the little boy had lowered his head and had grown so very
quiet. While he was not looking I reached into my purse and pulled out a
hand full of bills. I asked the little boy, "Shall we count that
money one more time?"
He grew excited and said , "Yes, I just know it has to be
enough" So I slipped my money in with his and we began to count it.
And of course it was plenty for the doll. He softly said, "Thank you
Jesus for giving me enough money."
The boy continued, "I just asked Jesus to give me enough money to
buy this doll so Momma can take it with her to give to my sister. And he
heard my prayer. I wanted to ask him for enough to buy my Momma a white
rose, but I didn't ask him, but he gave me enough to buy the doll and a
rose for my Momma. She loves white roses so very very much"
In a few minutes the aunt came back and I wheeled my cart away. I could
not keep from thinking about the little boy as I finished my shopping in a
totally different spirit than when I had started. And I kept remembering a
story I had seen in the newspaper several days earlier about a drunk
driver hitting a car and killing a little girl and the Mother was in
serious condition. The family was deciding on rather to remove the life
support. Now surely this little boy did not belong with that story.
Two days later I read in the paper where the family had disconnected
the life support and the young woman had died. I could not forget the
little boy and just kept wondering if the two were somehow connected.
Later that day, I could not help myself and I went out and bought some
white roses and took them to the funeral home where the young woman was.
And there she was holding a lovely white rose, the beautiful doll, and the
picture of the little boy in the store.
I left there in tears, my life changed forever. The love that little
boy had for his little sister and his mother was over whelming. And in a
split second a drunk driver had ripped the life of that little boy to
|During the busyness of this holiday season, my one year old
daughter caught a cold that wouldn't seem to let go of her. She had it
especially rough at night when she had coughing fits. Being a first time,
nervous mom, I brought her to bed with me after a particularly bad cough.
As we were drifting to sleep, she wiggled around and her hand fell
across my face, brushed my cheek and rested there. I felt as if an
electric current was running through my body. Simultaneously, a picture
came to mind of a most beautifully wrapped gift -- gold foil with
delightful maroon ribbons. I realized that God had just sent a wonderful
message and gift to me about the things I should be focusing on this
Amidst all the buying, decorating, and entertaining, I was shown
through the simple touch of my child the most precious gift of all.
My baby's touch, this year in 1998, must not be so unlike the touch of
another precious child 2000 years ago.
Did his mother feel the same way when his hand brushed against her
cheek? His life was to touch the world and affect all of us. Hopefully,
with my gentle guidance and love, my baby's touch will affect others as
Holiday Fun For The Family
addition to the stories above, I am providing you with some
additional Christmas related information that may help you
enjoy this wonderful season.
you and your family truly enjoy all that Christmas has to