Once upon a Christmas

There are a lot of terrible things going on right now in the world. But we are at the time of the year when Christians celebrate Christ. We can choose to be impacted by the world around us in its dimly lit arena, or we can choose to let our light so shine. I choose the latter. I want to tell you a little about the Christmas’ that I had growing up on our family farm in Ohio. I was blessed to be born into a horse and cattle farm that has been in our family for some 200 years. And Christmas, especially Christmas Eve, was a wonderful time for our family. December 24 was my Dad’s birthday. And my Dad was well loved by his neighbors and friends, so we had a lot going on Christmas Eve.

I remember one special Christmas Eve. I must have been about four years old. The night was falling and the wind and snow were whipping across the barnyard, as we often were victims of the “lake effect” from Lake Erie in the southern most tip of the snow belt. The barn was cold when we turned on the lights and started climbing into the loft and throwing bales of hay down, putting the hay in the mangers, grain in the feed boxes and water in the buckets. Then the horses and cows were gathered in the barnyard, one by one we let them through the door and they automatically went to their stalls or stanchions. The barn warmed up and the animals contently eating was a comforting sound. 

We had dinner and went to church. I remember my brother Chuck carried me out of church that night. He was 14 years older than me and we were so very close. He was asking me whether I thought Santa had made it to the farm yet. And I was worried that it was so early on Christmas Eve that he had not–for we celebrated our family Christmas on Christmas Eve with my Dad’s birthday. Then he looked up at the moon and said, “See there…its Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer. Don’t you see them?” He was so convincing that I looked and looked, but couldn’t find them. But Chuck insisted that he had seen Santa Clause. We got home and sure enough there were wonderful presents under the tree.

We had a great family time that year, opening presents and enjoying one another. And afterwards, neighbors and friends started dropping by to wish my Dad happy birthday. Their kids and me were playing with my new farm set, and there was a lot of laughter and fun. Chuck was killed by a drunk driver a few years later. Dad passed in 1989. But the spirit of those two wonderful men lives on here and especially in heaven, and I am reminded of them every Christmas Eve–in the best of times or worst of times, they were the best of men. We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who is with us in all times. And no matter the condition of the world, we can draw comfort in His promise in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” God Bless you and yours during this season.

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Bill Wilson

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