In western Pennsylvania, frigid December afternoons pass quietly and it will soon be Christmas.
Ring Silver Bells, Ring Silver Bells…
The Christmas song plays in the kitchen this morning. The music picks up speed as layers of instruments repeat the theme.
The piano pounds out the familiar melody and the mandolin plucks an unrelenting Latin rhythm mingled with a classy jazz trumpet and a metal stringed violin.
Christmas celebrations linger in snippets and fragments; layered and overlapped like Christmas melodies that play one by one, over and under each other.
Oh, Christmas Tree…Oh ,Christmas Tree…
Childhood comes to visit me as the carols continue to play. I was about ten years old, a little girl who like to wear blue jeans and flannel shirts. A little girl who liked to play tag and make hide-outs in the woods around our neighborhood, splash in rain puddles, run barefoot and share secrets and laughter with my friends.
Like my three younger siblings, Patti, David and Tommy, our anticipation of Santa Claus reached a zenith. Christmas was finally here. I worried that I had not been “good enough” for Santa but everything must have been ok because I did have a stocking full of little treasures that morning. What joy!
One by one we unwrapped our gifts. I noticed I had one additional gift. An extra gift seemed strange because in our home gifts were something extraordinary. A steelworker’s family seldom had more than a couple of small gifts. Each one was a treasure to us.. We giggled and squirmed amid the wrappings we discarded the wrapping papers. We tore into the gifts. OH, Christmas morning is the most memorable time of a little child’s life!
At last, I reached back into the stocking and removed the last gift – the extra one. Slowly, I peeled back the layers of paper – but my smile disappeared. My gift was a heavy and solid weight in my small hands. It was a shiny lump of black Pennsylvania coal.
I never knew who and I never knew why. But I knew that coal came from Santa when a child was very bad that year.
“I Believe in Angels”
Folks often say Christmas is for children,
skating on ice, building castles of snow.
Oh, I believe Christmas is a holy birthday!
a time to sit by a warm fire, sing holiday songs.
I believe in shepherds! and angels!
and Three Kings who delivered priceless gifts.
It’s a joy to be with friends, to give gifts.
Adults once again become like children,
who look out the window to see the first snow.
The Ancients anticipated this birthday
celebration that began with heavenly songs
when the birth of Messiah was announced by angels.
The holy birth was shared with shepherds and angels,
long before mass marketing, tinsel, and glitzy gifts,
The promised Child would heal earth’s children.
Perhaps the plains were deep with snow
on the night of His miraculous birth.
Yes, I believe in angel songs!
In the darkest winter night, listen for the songs
sung by a choir of angels.
The greatest heavenly gift
came to walk with earth’s children.
As i light the Advent wreath I look out at falling snow-
and remember the reason behind this ancient birthday.
On bleak December days, consider His birthday.
Listen in the quiet night for angel songs.
The birth of Messiah, announced by the angels,
is the reason for exchanging gifts.
I believe Christ’s birthday is truly for children
like me and you who walk in a world of wintry snow.
Every child knows the delight of playing in snow
the joy of receiving gifts in celebration of a birthday-
I believe in birthday songs!
I’m a child once again as I listen for angels
songs and remember the wise men who brought gifts.
the annointed Gift from God – I believe in children!
*** by Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2014. Revised 2017. All Rights Reserved.