Friday, December 11, 2015 

And above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony, Colossians 3:14 

Among my most cherished childhood memories are those of Christmas Eve celebrations. As darkness deepened in the evening, the lights of our Christmas tree and the glow in our hearts would shine all the more brightly. Our celebration would begin with Dad’s reading of the Christmas story out of the German family Bible, then we would kneel as a family and one by one offer a prayer of gratitude to our Lord for sending the Christ-child to earth. I thought Dad always made the longest prayers on that occasion! Gathering around our old-fashioned pump organ and singing Christmas carols was next; the final number always had to be “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”—sung in German. Finally, after what seemed like forever, we were ready for our exchange of gifts, which always reflected sacrificial love. Such practical items as warm PJs, mittens, and slippers were joyfully received. Also, we always looked forward to the new games, such as Chinese checkers, Jack Straws, and Monopoly (now we would no longer have to pay twenty-five cents to borrow our neighbor’s set).

There were some very meager Christmas celebrations, too. I shall never forget one year, when after our usual Bible and prayer time, there were no gifts to be opened, and with sad, heavy hearts we children dragged ourselves to bed. (I am sure our parents’ hearts were even heavier). We had hardly gotten tucked in between our feather beds when a knock was heard on our front door, with an exchange of happy voices. Not able to constrain our curiosity, we tiptoed downstairs, and there to our joyful surprise was an assortment of fine used toys that had been collected by a kind, understanding family. What a happy ending for us all!

-Ruth Shank Shira 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your sacrificial love that came down at Christmas in the form of a baby, the Christ-child. We are also grateful for the love we receive from others who reflect your love to us. Amen.