SFPNN Special Edition –
Join us on-line at: http://www.sfpnn.com/
Season’s Greetings, Folks!
Our Christmas Issue of the Special Edition is always one of my favorites, filled with holiday cheer and worthy of a box of tissues nearby for those happy tears. This year’s issue is no exception and I’d like to thank all those who contributed to it. We have so many lovely stories to share that we’re doing both Part 1 and Part 2! I hope you enjoy! Happy Holidays… we’ll see you next year!
Wishing You and Yours Peace, Love, Happiness, Health and Prosperity,
By Joseph Walker
For those who dream of a white Christmas, 1988 was a dream come true.
A winter storm dumped more than a foot of snow in our area early that Christmas Sunday morning. From the warmth and security of my living room, it was a magnificent sight. The snow lay in a thick, powdery blanket that gave the roads, yards and orchards outside the appearance of being joined together as one huge flat, white field. Smoke curled out of brick chimneys that extended up through what seemed to be a thick layer of marshmallow rooftop frosting, giving every house a cozy Courier & Ives ornamentation. Tree boughs bent sharply beneath the heavy load of snow, and “the treetops glistened.” Just like the song says.
It was picturesque – no question about it.
Until you tried to travel in it. Then all of that beautiful snow suddenly became an icy adversary that caused tires to spin and made roads impassable. All of which was fine for those who were inclined to spend a nice, quiet Christmas at home. But for those who planned on traveling “over the river and through the woods” – or even just a few blocks to attend church services – the snow presented a challenge of significant proportions.
It became clear to me just how significant those challenges would be when I tried to negotiate the two blocks to church on foot. Trudging through the deep snow was laborious, and I slipped frequently on patches of ice. As the lay leader of our local church congregation, I was concerned for those who would venture out to attend our Christmas worship service – especially those wonderfully faithful elderly couples and widows who always attended. No matter what.
When I got to the church I called Sam, my good friend and one of my associates in the lay ministry, and I suggested the possibility of canceling services because of the snow.
“Oh, we can’t do that,” he said. “It’s Christmas!”
“But I don’t know if it’s safe . . .”
“Don’t you worry about that,” he said. “Everything will be fine. You’ll see.”
Buoyed by Sam’s faith and assurance, I began preparing the church for worship. I cranked up the heat in the chapel, turned on lights, set up a few extra chairs in the back (well, it WAS Christmas Sunday, after all) and then headed out to shovel the sidewalks. The snow was heavy and wet, and there was a ton of it to remove. There was no way I was going to get it all done before church. And I had no idea what to do about the parking lot, which was still covered with so much snow that it would be dangerous for cars pulling in and out.
Suddenly I heard a chugging sound coming slowly down the tree-lined lane leading up to the church. I knew that sound – it was George, a good-hearted member of our congregation. He was using the blade on his tractor to plow a path to church. He waved as he chugged into the parking lot and began clearing away snow for the cars that soon would be coming.
I bowed my head and silently thanked God for George. But when I looked up I realized I had much more for which to be grateful. A small army of men – old and young – armed with snow shovels were descending on the church sidewalks to finish the job I had barely started. In no time the walks were clean and the parking lot was ready for those who would drive to church.
I thanked George and the others for their help, and gently suggested that we take a few minutes to dig out some of our elderly couples and widows.
“Too late,” George said through the frost accumulating on his thick white moustache.
I looked at my watch. “We’ve got a half-hour. If we divide up I’m sure we can . . .”
“It’s done,” George interrupted. “Every house in the neighborhood. Merry Christmas!”
I looked at George and at the smiling faces of men and boys who had left their warm homes and Christmas presents to move a mountain of snow so that their neighbors could safely travel to worship – and I wept. There were no words to express what I was feeling and what they had taught me that Christmas Sunday. But as we stood there in that circle of service, noses running and cheeks pink from the cold, we were warm.
Because of effort. Because of love. But mostly, because of Christmas.
For more of Joseph’s stories: http://www.sfpnn.com/joseph_walker1.htm
* * *
By Kathleen S. Baker
Older folks always astound me with their wit and wisdom, and inspire me with their determination to continue living life to its fullest. As my own Dad ages he never ceases to knock my socks off, and last Christmas he did one exceptional job.
The first few years after Mother’s death, however, I made sure Dad did not spend the holiday in his own home. I feared he might dwell on years past and find no joy in the season whatsoever.
Therefore, my husband, Jerry, and I hosted “Geriatric Christmas” gatherings that included his parents also. Talk about fun! Dad and my mother-in-law, Iva Dee, concocted an annual domino tournament during these visits. If Dad made a good play, Iva Dee would screech, “Raymond, I hate you!” Then they would giggle like little kids. Now and again Dad would holler, “Jerry, did you hear what your mother just said to me?” More giggling and make-believe fussing would follow.
We were constantly entertained by their conversations, with questions and answers that didn’t apply to each other at all. Hearing aids are helpful, but they are far from perfect. The times they caught us snickering behind their backs, we would repeat the actual question and remind them of the discombobulated answer. They usually laughed harder than we did at such revelations.
Finally, last year Dad offered up an
invitation to once again come home for Christmas. He even promised me it would snow in
On December 22nd, we loaded up dogs, food items, gifts, and headed north. It looked like we might be moving in! The temperature dropped considerably the farther north we drove, and I found myself getting excited even though it was going to be so different without Mother’s presence.
As soon as we rounded the corner of Dad’s street my mouth fell open. Dusk had fallen and I could see he had new outdoor decorations. As we pulled into the driveway, we were greeted by a herd of twinkling, mechanical reindeer! I could not believe a man 88 years of age would be buying new décor, and still climbing ladders to hang lights on the eaves of his house. The deer were great, but I was ready to scold him about climbing ladders at his age, especially after a recent “knee replacement.”
Well, I forgot to scold him, because once we were inside my mouth fell open again! There stood a beautiful, new, 6 foot tall Christmas tree, and the ornaments were even spaced perfectly. I wondered how many days he had worked at that. Guess he knew if they weren’t perfect, I’d be puttering around with them. “Gee, Dad, you have an awesome new tree! But, what was wrong with your other one?” I was truly confused with the new tree.
“Oh, I never did like that other tree and Mom said we didn’t need a new one at our ages.” His eyes danced as he continued with each and every detail of finding the perfect tree, and getting such a bargain to boot.
The dining room table was decked out with fine linen; a task I had assumed would be left for me. I commented on how nice it looked -- plus the fact he had already “dressed the table.”
“Thanks,” he grumbled, “but didn’t you even notice my new candle holders?” Oh no! I had hurt his feelings -- I made a record-setting, split-second apology. I still don’t know why he needed new ones, as there were several sets in the china cabinet.
Everywhere I looked was a new decoration, or and old favorite from years gone by, and Christmas CD’s were playing in the background. I was amazed! How did he do all of this, and how long did it take him? Even though he’s still young at heart, he fights a terrible battle with arthritis in his back. Still, he had somehow managed to create a picture-perfect holiday happening.
We finally hauled our luggage to the guestroom only to discover electric candles in the windows, and a floral Christmas arrangement atop the makeup stand. I caught myself smiling, and wondering if there might be bright red sheets under the bedspread.
I was almost afraid to check the guest bathroom for fear he’d bought some of that lovely holiday print toilet paper! Whew, just a couple of candles…the stores must have sold out of that cheerful tissue, or I’m sure he would have bought some just for kicks.
The desserts displayed in the kitchen
reminded me of a
My head was spinning by the time I finished gawking around the house, but there was one more surprise in store. The dogs began begging to go outside; I opened the backdoor and was nearly blinded by the light! Dad had decorated the deck. It was striking with numerous strings of flickering lights draped around the railings. “Oh my gosh, Dad! You’ve never decorated the back of your house -- have you lost your mind, or what?”
I’ve never seen such a smug look on anyone’s face in my entire life. “Well, I figured the doggies would enjoy it when they went outside.” His eyes were sparkling much like the lights on the deck.
The next day friends and neighbors began dropping by to visit. Without fail, they each asked what I thought of Dad’s preparations, and they each reported he had been on a “mission” to surprise the dickens out of me. It seemed nearly everyone in town knew what he’d been up to. As for surprised? You bet I was!
Just as when I was a child, this now-older Santa had made Christmas as special as possible for his now-older, little girl. Never in my life had I felt Santa’s love quite so deeply…
— © 2005 Kathleene S. Baker
Please visit my website: YELLOW ROSE
* * *
Every year marks the anniversary of a very wonderful Christmas. Though doctors did everything medically possible to stop the premature delivery, our youngest grandson was born.
There was no room in the inn, as all the beautiful new birthing rooms were filled.
We were given a small dingy room that was never intended to be used again; awaiting remodeling. In fact, it had never been a delivery room at all and there was barely room for the needed medical equipment.
Only a few were allowed to remain present, squeezing quietly into a corner, as the doctor suddenly received an urgent message from heaven that this baby should be born, now! And, now it was, as it seemed only a matter of seconds that the physician broke the water, reached in, and pulled the baby out. And, I thought, "Wow! They can do that!?"
Literally beyond purple, next came what seemed like a very lengthy silence as they hurried toward getting the baby prepared for an incubator. Finally, he breathed his first breath of life. Then. . . the next. . . and. . . the next.
Though they could not promise our grandson would make it through the night, it was a miracle that he was alive at all. We quietly listened, as he labored to breathe, in awe, knowing that every next breath was, yet, another miracle and that God intended this child to live!
December 25th is not the exact day of Jesus' birth, as an infant. Yet, it is the time of year when lambs are born.
Reminded of the first
Christmas traditions lose their attraction at the very presence of God. And, where two or more are gathered together, sharing joys of the Lord, He will be there. And, wherever He is, it is always ... CHRISTMAS!
Never settle for less than the best.
— © by
Joyce's writings encourage us in our relationship with God and each other.
* * *
By Robert Paul Sax
I sit alone on Christmas eve-
no presents or a tree
The kids moved on-no noise no carols
no tattered paper or shouts of glee
I miss their laughter and silly antics
like the bows stuck on my back
The radio plays softly a Christmas tune
as my eyes grow tired and heavy
To think this house once filled with
is now an empty shell
and a year's gone by since my wife passed on
I think of her and choke back the tears
as my head nods off to rest
I suddenly wake to a knock on the door
I wasn't expecting a soul
I open the door and there stands a child
"Hi Grampa," she smiles at me
I pick her up gently and hold her close
She kisses me and says, "I love you"
and all teary-eyed I smile and say
"You are my Christmas Angel!"
Copyright ©2005 Robert Paul Sax
* * *
— Thanks to Aunt Bette for this Special Edition selection
A Mountain Wings Original by Nola Parton-Jones
A number of years ago when my youngest child of six children was 10 or 11, I was driving myself crazy trying to buy everything on her very lengthy Christmas list. I wanted to be a good parent and give my child the desires of her heart.
In the midst of all of this, a friend told me that he and his wife buy their children four gifts for Christmas every year.
Yes, FOUR gifts!
1. Something you want
2. Something you need
3. Something to wear and
4. Something to read.
If they complain, ask them, "Whose birthday are we celebrating?"
Once I started doing this, I thought my children would be awful about it, but the opposite happened. They really appreciated every gift they got, and they made me "label" them.
Since that time, Christmas at our house has been so much more enjoyable because we could focus on the true meaning of the celebration, and I wasn't driving myself crazy trying to find and buy gifts I couldn't afford.
And yes, I still buy and label four gifts for them each year.
~A MountainWings Original by
* * *
By Kathleene S. Baker
“HO, HO, HO,” boomed Dad waking the kids on Christmas morning, and always at an outlandish hour. Like before sunrise! The child in him couldn’t wait any longer, and he would “ho, ho, ho” up and down the hall until we staggered out of our rooms. He’d then say with a twinkle in his eye, “I think Santa has been here, I just heard something on the roof!” That resounding “ho, ho, ho” is one of my fondest childhood memories.
Thankfully, his “ho, ho, ho-ing” never stopped! Once gone from home, if the holiday was spent with my parents, one could expect to hear that familiar “sound from the past” echoing down the hall on Christmas morning. It was something very simple but it was definitely a tradition, and one that Dad delights in to this day at 86 years of age.
To some the uttering of “ho, ho, ho” may not sound like the definition of a tradition, but according to Merriam-Webster: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior
I rest my case regarding memories of my first and favorite Christmas tradition! Sadly, sometimes our old traditions fade away, but new ones are always just waiting to be created. And that can happen when you least expect!
The traditional hanging of stockings on the mantel ended once we kids knew the spirit of Santa lived in our hearts. Quite by accident that old tradition was reborn some years ago, but this time for the “older kids” in the family. As if going back in time, we again had stockings spilling over on Christmas morning.
While doing my regular shopping one season, I was constantly bumping into coffee mugs and cute small items. Each one jumped out at me shouting, “Oh, Mom would love this!” Or, “Oh, wouldn’t Jerry’s Mom like this?”
It was also during a generational gap, so no young children would be with us for the holiday. Thus, there would be no stockings hanging from the mantel. I finally couldn’t stand it any longer and started filling my shopping bags with these cute odds and ends, including a special coffee mug for each person. Next I caught myself buying inexpensive stockings as a means of presenting these special treats. I could feel the spirit of the season soar within me as my plan evolved. A Christmas morning surprise would be such an exciting and unanticipated event. I could hardly keep my scheme to myself.
Everyone did a “double-take” as they wandered into the family room yawning and rubbing their eyes Christmas morning. They looked like a bunch of little kids realizing that Santa really had been there! Who else could have hung and filled those stockings? Talk about a hit! Everyone ooohed and aaahhhed, and it looked like a reindeer stampede as they raced to the kitchen to wash those mugs for immediate use.
There was no discussion of let’s do this every year. The only hint it would continue was that everyone asked if they could keep their stocking. From that point on – we were off and running. And, those inexpensive felt stockings were soon replaced with bigger and better ones. Sometimes bigger truly is better!
Stockings for the “older kids” have since become traditional, and a highlight of our holiday celebration. With a little thought, it’s amazing what wonderful items have been found inside. Most are rather inexpensive, but not always: CDs, DVDs, ties, key chains, refrigerator magnets, personalized note pads, golf towels, perfume, gadgets of all kinds, cash, digital tire pressure gauges, and even a stud finder for a beginning do-it-yourselfer! As for me, selecting the perfect stocking stuffer is far more magical than buying that one major gift.
Depending on who gathers on any given year, lottery tickets from different states are always buried amongst the treasures. Last year we had a $25 winning ticket right off the bat. Everyone squealed with delight, as they continued frantically scratching their own tickets looking for a bigger winner.
One year the main gift from my husband was buried deep in the toe of my stocking. Talk about the perfect place to tuck a piece of jewelry! I nearly fainted that morning, as he had been very generous with gifts on Christmas Eve. He was so pleased with himself he was almost unbearable. But, it couldn’t have been done without the stocking.
Now as family members pack for their Christmas trips, they also pack their stockings. There have been a few times that panic erupted, when someone realized they forgot an item nearly as vital as their underwear! I keep a few spare stockings on hand at my house “just in case!” After all – it’s become a treasured tradition for the “older kids” in this family.
— © 2004 Kathleene S. Baker
Please visit Kathy’s website at: http://www.txyellowrose.com/
* * *
GIFTS FROM GOD
By Joseph J. Mazzella
I was just sitting down after a fantastic dinner that my wife had made today. I was feeling warm, content, and very thankful to God for my loving family and for my wife's delicious cooking. I was feeling blessed to have been given so much to enjoy, rejoice in, and share in my life. I doubted that there was anything that could make me feel better than I did at that moment.
It was just then ,however, that my wonderful daughter yelled for me and my wife to hurry outside right away and see the sky. It had been raining all day long, but now the setting sun was making the breaking clouds in the western sky turn a glorious, shining yellow. That was not all, though. At the same time God was using that beautiful setting sun to create the most fantastic double rainbow that I had ever seen. It covered the whole eastern part of the sky and made my delighted heart sing with its wondrous colors. It flowed from mountain to mountain and opened up a pot of gold in my own soul as I watched it.
This Heavenly sight reminded me once again that God's gifts come to us every second of everyday of our lives and that His blessings for us never end. His love for us is endless and unconditional and flows from everything in this life. We can see the gifts of this love in the setting sun, the shining stars, the colorful rainbows, the falling snow, and the glowing moon. We can hear these gifts in the songs of a thousand birds and in the wind whistling through the trees. We can feel these gifts in the hugs of our loved ones and in the smiles of strangers. We can even share these gifts ourselves by choosing to give our own soul's love, joy, laughter, delight, peace, goodness, kindness, and happiness to everyone we meet.
God's glorious love for us makes everyday holy. God's endless love for us makes everyday a gift. Let's all join God then in giving the gifts of love and joy to the world.
* * *
For more Christmas Stories, please
check your e-mailbox and read Part 2 of the SFPNN Special Edition 2005
Now you can find all of your favorite SFPNN Special Editions in one place at: http://www.sfpnn.com/pnn_special_edition.htm
Also look for our Soul Magic series! http://www.sfpnn.com/soul_magic.htm
For current and back issues of Sir Froggie's
sfpnn subscription information
SFPNN is NOT "spam" and may only be received through a free subscription request from yourself or from someone who wished to give you a subscription as a gift.
To change an existing subscription to a different e-mail address, please unsubscribe your old e-mail address and subscribe your new e-mail addy using the above link. Thanks!
This and every issue of SFPNN is dedicated to MISTY, a tiny angel who taught us to love unconditionally and bask in the glory and joy of each moment.
For more information about Misty, please visit Misty Miracle at: http://www.sfpnn.com/SoulMagic/Soul2001/sm040601.htm and our Reflections of a Zen Master / Fuzzy Tales page at: http://www.sfpnn.com/misty.htm .
"ONLY LOVE PREVAILS" — © Beverley Waller