Christmas is in the air


Christmas bells are ringing. It is close enough, you can almost touch it. Around the world homes are getting ready for this day. It may not be celebrated all the same, but it’s Christmas. To each of us Christmas brings its own sense of congruity.

I picture homes in other countries where children run in bare feet year round, padding into their primitive home with a dirt floor, excited to have a rooster to make over the fire for Christmas Day. I loved the Haitian culture when I was there visiting a number of years ago to visit family, though I would undoubtedly have adjustments living there.

Here at home, Christmas is also in the air. The children are excited to all go caroling in the nursing homes tonight with my mom. Their favorite part is is the baaing, hee-hawing, and mooing in the song, Jesus our Brother. Their little faces burst with smiles of delight as they call out with childish voices. The tradition of Grandma and the grandchildren going around to sing for the neighbors has shifted a bit, and this year they’ll be singing for elderly folks in Robinson.

The children love looking at all the pretty lights along the way. What is Christmas like for you? Trees, presents, candy, celebrating Jesus… the list goes on. Does it bring back fond childhood days or has it been a more difficult time of the year for you?

In our home it is a special time to celebrate Jesus’ birth and the wonder of God’s plan in promising to take us to heaven through his son, Jesus as we repent and walk in His ways. There are many ways this is celebrated including programs or special gatherings with family and friends and hearty meal to go with it. Among the Amish you will also find some gift exchange, varying from one community to the next.

Oh, and listen to this, today I heard of a family who sleeps in the barn each Christmas Eve to impress on the children’s hearts how their Savior was born in these humble conditions.

I was intrigued with the idea. I pictured scattering our large hay bale over the barn flour and then pitching sleeping bags on top. When I told the children about my brainstorm, I got a kick out of their responses.”Let’s do it!” Julia quipped. “That would be creepy with the animals!” A small voice said. “I’ll sleep with rabbits,” Austin declared. “I want sleep with the little lamb,” Joshua decided. We’ll see.

I wonder what the weather was like that night, back in the day, when Mary gave birth to Jesus? When I picture Jesus in a manger, or feed trough, as we’d now call it, I imagine a warm climate.

What was it like for Mary that night? Did God come close enough to show her the magnitude of the plan for all mankind through this infant, ready to spring up as any other child, and on into adulthood. Did she know that He would finally give his life for you and me? I wonder how she must have felt. Imagine the sacrifice she made to have her baby born in a barn full of donkeys which had brought other people to the inn.

There were not doctors to aid her or nurses in clean uniforms to assist her after she gave birth. Instead the ruddy shepherds came straight from the fields to worship her son.

Next I wonder if I’ll ask her those questions when I spend eternal years with her in heaven? I don’t know; it may not matter that much anymore. For today I’ll just know it was a perfect story.

Enjoy my friend’s delicious potato casserole, and have a Merry Christmas in the comfy surrounding of a cozy dwelling place!

Simple Potato Casserole

8 cups raw, shredded potatoes

2 ½ cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons flour

1/ 2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups shredded cheese

Mix milk, flour, salt, and pepper together. Set aside. Pour shredded potatoes into a 9 X 13-inch greased pan. Dot with butter. Pour milk mixture on top and cover with foil and bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and top with cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.

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