- SHEILA RHODES
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Tag Archives: Joys of Christmas
EVERY CHRISTMAS I make gifts for family and friends. One year I found an especially beautiful pattern for poinsettia napkin rings. I cut the red and green felt and fashioned it into flowers. Then I grouped them into sets of four and began wrapping. They are the best gifts I’ve ever made, I decided. I checked my list one last time and found I had made one gift too many. I’ll keep the last set for myself.
On Christmas Eve I set the dinner table and admired how the napkin rings made everything look perfect. Suddenly my friend Alice came to mind. How could I have forgotten Alice? WE always exchanged gifts, and she too made her gifts by hand.
I knew what I had to do: give Alice my last set of napkin rings. I took the napkins out of the rings and, crestfallen, wrapped them. My table no longer looked so festive.
I called Alice to tell her I was coming over. “I have to run out,” she said. “I’ll leave your gift in the mailbox.”
When my girls and I arrived at Alice’s house, I opened up the mailbox. Sure enough, a beautifully wrapped package was waiting inside. I took it out and put her present in its place. “Open it! Open it!” my daughters squealed, unable to contain their excitement. Finally I told the girls they could open the present. They tore off the wrapping and opened the lid. Inside were napkin rings.
“Well?” I asked.
“Mom,” Terri gasped. “Look!” Poinsettias. Exactly like the ones I had made.
I could have laughed out loud. What an amazing coincidence! I thought. But then I remembered the line from the Book of Luke: “Give, and it will be given to you.”
Be open to the unexpected. Sometimes the best things in life just happen. Share the love of Christmas at work, with friends family and neighbors ~ in quiet ways.
“I CAME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE, AND HAVE IT ABUNDANTLY.” ~ JOHN 10:10
THERE WERE MORE Christmas gifts to open, but my wife, Kate, announced, “Okay, everyone, time to get ready.” Kate is the rector at our small Episcopal church, and she had to lead a morning service.
I gritted my teeth. Why, I wondered, can’t we be like normal families? Everything is different in a clergy household. Sunday is a workday, holidays are workdays. Saturdays are sermon-perfecting days, and every week seems to bring some fresh reason why the rector needs to be out several evenings in a row. I’m not always good-natured about this situation. We got dressed, and our son, Benji, climbed into his stroller. Walking along the quiet streets, I had to admit it was nice to be outside ~ cool air, bright sun, hillsides tawny with winter-brown grass.
A couple dozen people gathered in the sanctuary. Those wonderful Bible verses were read: “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.” We gathered around the altar for Communion. I looked around at everyone’s warm, happy faces. Taking the bread and wine, I felt foolish and glad at the same time: foolish for begrudging this wonderful life at the heart of God’s work in the world; glad that my church community, and Kate, loved me anyway.
Teach me to be thankful at all times, Lord.
“Christmas is the season of joy; of holiday greetings exchanged, of gift-giving, and of families united.”