December 22, 2018 9:58:37 PM
Editor's note: The following Christmas remembrance was shared by retired New Hope Elementary School teacher Pam Stratton of Columbus.
Our family Christmases have always been special to me, but one particular Christmas has always come to the forefront of my memory as being the best Christmas ever. While still quite young, my parents had only three children at the time. I was the only girl (4), with one older brother (6) and one younger brother (3). Although we children never knew this at the time, our family was the poorest we'd ever been. Dad was often on the evangelistic field, following the calling God had placed on his life. That, however, did not yield much pay. We lived in a small, two-bedroom trailer on the farm of an elderly couple who pastored the church we attended. We had very little food, with the exception of an abundance of oatmeal, which we ate daily. A nearby dairy farmer brought us milk and cream. Mom churned the cream into butter by shaking it in a large jar. We occasionally had other things to eat other than oatmeal, but not very often.
Our entertainment was singing along as Dad played the guitar, and Mom played the accordion. As Christmas approached we delighted in singing many songs about the glorious birth of Christ. With fascination we learned about Jesus, and that Christmas is a celebration of His birth.
Mom collected green stamps so that she could get each of us a gift for Christmas. By Christmas Eve she had collected three books of stamps, giving her enough to get one toy each for my brothers and me. That night, after tucking all three of us into bed, Mom wrapped the three gifts and placed them under the tree. Before drifting off to sleep, I looked up at the stars through the window to see if I could spot the star that shined over the stable where Christ was born. I listened intently to try and hear the angels singing, just like they did the night Christ was born. I drifted off to sleep, imagining that I could hear them in the distance.
During the night, as we children slept, a man knocked on the door and asked our parents to walk to his car. The man was not a complete stranger, but Mom and Dad didn't know him personally. Dad accompanied the man to his car, and in the trunk were three gifts -- one each for my brothers and me. The man explained that the Lord had told him to bring the gifts, and even told him what to bring. After the man left, Mom and Dad quietly placed the packages under the tree.
We woke early on Christmas morning to the smell of fried oatmeal, which was served much like pancakes, and was a delicacy to us. We dashed into the living room where we were presented with our gifts. I noticed that my gift, being taller than me, was the largest of all. As I climbed onto a stool to peer into the top of the box, my eyes widened with amazement when I saw a huge, white, fluffy, stuffed dog. I remember the excitement I felt as I took the dog from the box and wrapped my arms around it. The divinely inspired gifts my brothers and I received were the exact things we had wanted. No one but God knew that. Memories of that Christmas are ones that I will always cherish fondly.
Many Christmases have come and gone, and my stuffed dog has long since gone to "toy heaven," but no gift that I've ever received has made more of an impression on me. Only God knew my heart and exactly what would touch it. Through the years I've heard Dad speak of that special Christmas in his messages, reminding me that everything is in God's hands. Only God knows everyone's hearts, and what it takes to touch them. He knows exactly what we need and the perfect timing for it.
Still, on Christmas, I look to the sky with eager anticipation of spotting that special star, while standing quietly, per chance I may hear the angels singing of the birth of Christ. The story of the Nativity is embedded within my heart as well as the true reason for celebration.