I was dozing on the couch a few days before Christmas, when the scent of warm pine needles and candle wax permeated my consciousness. Still in my semi-conscious state, I was transported back through the years to a rough, little house perched on the bank of the creek. A gleaming Christmas tree stood in the room, with copper clips holding dozens of colorful, twisted candles which were lit, mingling the perfume of hemlock and warm candle wax.

Through the doorway, I could see Mom’s orange-coconut cake on the table, along with an assortment of brown, flaky homemade pies. Her back was to me, stirring a skillet of chopped celery and onion, cooked in homemade butter to add to her chicken dressing. I could smell the fragrant mixture and my mouth watered in anticipation of the holiday meal that was forthcoming.

Daddy was reading the Bible, and he called to us to come and hear the Christmas story. Mary Ellen and I were ready for bed, dressed in our white feedsack gowns, and Larry was in his pajamas. With Mary Ellen on his lap, and Larry and I crowded as close to him as we could get, he began reading from the second chapter of Luke.

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed . . . and all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”

Daddy’s voice droned on and on, while Larry and I sat rapt, listening to the story. The lights from the tree, and the flickering shadows created a magical scene that imprinted on our memories. Mary Ellen, the baby, popped her thumb in her mouth and drifted off to sleep. Daddy read on, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” When we grew older, we would get highly indignant at this point in the story. We would tell Daddy, “Why did he have to have his bed in a manger? I would have given him my bed!”

Then Daddy would continue with the account of the shepherds, who were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their sheep by night. When Daddy got to the part about the angel of the Lord who appeared unto the frightened shepherds and told them not to fear, his voice grew hushed and reverent. When the angel spoke and told them, “Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people.” His voice would break there, and tears start streaming down his face, at the thought of what the good tidings meant to a lost world.

He would finish the story with this, “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” I aroused from my dream (if it was a dream) thinking about that Christmas of long ago, and marveling that the Christmas story has never grown old. It has the same compelling power that it has always had.

The little house on the creek bank, where the rambler roses bloomed on the back side of it, has been gone for years. Daddy is gone too, and the little children who were wrapped up in the compelling story of the birth of Jesus now have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Yet the story of the Nativity is fresh and new with each generation.

We loved the story as children, but as we grew older, we realized that the Nativity was just the beginning. Jesus was not born just because He was a sweet, cuddly baby, but He had a far greater mission. It’s sad that too many people stop at the birth of Christ, not realizing that He was the promised Savior.

He was not only the Child that was born, but He was the Son that was given. His mission was predicted in Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

Jesus came as a baby, grew to manhood, and was cruelly hung on a cross that His blood might redeem us from sin. The price was paid, but we must take advantage of His pardon. In 1John 1:19 it reads, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I am glad that He came to save us FROM our sins, and not IN our sins.

By M. S. Lowndes

Christmas is a special time
To reflect on Jesus Christ.
The wonder of His lowly birth
Brings meaning to our lives.

There really is no other reason,
We celebrate this day,
The birth of God’s precious Son
And the life, He willingly gave.

But so much seems to distract us
In the busy-ness of our lives,
We lose our focus in all the happenings
Not knowing, we leave out Christ.

We lose sight of the true meaning
As we endlessly rush about,
Trying to find that perfect gift,
Seems to crowd our Savior out.

We need to stop and reflect awhile,
Remembering our precious Lord,
His birth, His life and sacrifice
And all that He stands for.

For though the world may celebrate,
It seems though for other reasons,
Let’s keep in mind that Jesus Christ
Is the meaning of the season.

Even though I am not sending Christmas cards this year, I appreciate and love each one that I receive
To all my readers, I am wishing for you a blessed Christmas, with joy, peace and contentment.

May our dear Lord bless each one of you with His abundant blessings. I do love each one of you.

Merry Christmas!

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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer