So, what one big gift does each of you want for Christmas? The kids in Sunday school were eager to share that.
Two of them were asking for DS3, whatever that is. One little girl in my lap said she really wanted earrings. One adventurous young lady wants a motorized minibike.
Then there's Timmy. "I want a sack of coal!" he announced with glee.
And what, i asked, would you do with that?
"I want coal so I can melt my brother's snowman!" he grinned mischievously.
With the lack of snow around here, do you really think that is feasible? i teasingly inquired.
"Well, it doesn't matter, I want to build a big fire!"
So, i further asked the kids, is Timmy saying that what some people think is not much of a present, or is a punishment, can really be a great gift?
"Yes, it can!" Laura noted. "If you are cold, you want coal!"
Right, i said, and that fits the Christmas story.
As they stared at me, i asked them to think about the Christmas story. We discussed the idea. Does a baby, especially one stuck in a feed trough, look like a gift?
"No! Babies look awful! They are all wrinkled and red, and I know, because we went to see Pastor L and Mrs. J's new baby at the hospital the other day, and he was ugly and wrinkled and red!" Timmy apparently has his opinions on beauty nailed down.
So, on the surface, does it look like a baby born to poor people that no one ever heard of could be someone come especially to tell us the message that G-d loves and cares about us, and to show us that we are to love one another?
They agreed that it does appear unlikely. They also got it that the main message is love, that we are to love, to act with love, always. That's what G-d wants to teach us, always.
We also talked about how, if something happens that doesn't look like a gift on the surface, it might really be the best thing that could happen.
Mostly, i think, they understood. And mostly, i know, the message i taught was for me, as i got a call from #2 Son right as class ended.
He swelling was worse, the hives were terrible, and i came home to take him to the ER.
We are going to assume penicillin allergy, he's on steroids and anti-histamines and i'm going to take it as a gift that we found out now, without him having to have a worse reaction.
May each of you find a gift in today, even if it is an unlikely one.
Adam the Patriarch & Eve the Matriarch's Day -- Catholic Christian (Adam, Patron of gardeners and tailors; Eve, Patron of tailors)
Aofangadagskvold -- Iceland (arrival of the 13th and final Yule Lad)
Icelandic Yuletide Lad of the Day, Kertasnikir -- Candle-beggar, who, as children did before light bulbs, wants the treat of a precious candle, and will steal one if he can
Bonfires on the Levee -- Louisiana, US (began among the Cajuns, now a big celebration for everyone, lighting the way for Papa Noel, a/k/a Te Claus)
Calendas -- Oaxaca, Mexico
Celtic Tree Month Beth (Birch) commences
Constitution Day -- Transdniestra
Declaration of Christmas Peace -- Old Great Square of Turku, Finland's official Christmas City
Feast of the Seven Fishes (La Vigilia) -- Italy (traditional serving of seven kinds of seafood at dinner)
Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols -- King's College Chapel, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England (special Christmas Eve performance by the Choir of King's College held since 1918)
Independence Day -- Libya
Kolada -- Asatru/Slavic Pagan Calendar (various celebrations of the gods until Dec. 31)
Last Minute Shoppers Day
Mistletoe Time -- traditional day on which to hang the mistletoe
Modresnach -- Germanic/Scandinavian/Anglo-Saxon Odinist festival celebrating midwinter and motherhood (date approximate)
National Egg Nog Day
Noche Buena -- Spain and Spanish speaking countries
Remember to Read the Instructions First Night -- when assembling the kids' toys, of course
Silent Night, Holy Night Celebrations -- Austria (in honor of the hymn's composition in 1818)
St. Trasilla's Day (Patron of single laywomen)
Tolling the Devil's Knell -- All Saints Parish Church, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England (the church bell tolls once for each year since the birth of Christ, signaling when the Devil's demise was heralded)
T'owd 'oss -- Richmond, North Yorkshire, England (A tradition of dressing in hunting clothes and blowing the hunting horns on Christmas Eve.)
Utter Day -- Fairy Calendar (Every word uttered by the fairy folk becomes a physical object he/she must wear for the rest of the day.)
Yap Constitution Day -- Micronesia (regional)
Zerowork Season begins -- seriously, unless you work in retail, how much work really gets done between now and New Year's Eve at your office?
Ryan Seacrest, 1974
Stephanie Meyer, 1973
Ricky Martin, 1971
Mary Higgins Clark, 1929
Ava Gardner, 1922
Howard Hughes, 1905
Johnny Gruelle, 1880
James Prescott Joule, 1818
Kit Carson, 1809
Today in History:
The Byzantine church Hagia Sophia in Constantinople is dedicated for the second time after being destroyed by earthquakes, 563
Thomas Wolsey is appointed English Lord Chancellor, 1515
Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, is "discovered" by James Cook, 1777
"Silent Night" is composed by Franz Joseph Gruber; it is first sung the next day, 1818
The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy begins that night, wrapping up the following morning, 1826
Fire devastates the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroys 35,000 volumes, 1851
Henry Ford completes his first useful gas motor, 1893
Irving Fisher patents an archiving system with index cards, 1912
The first radio transmission of NCRV in Netherlands, 1924
NORAD Tracks Santa for the first time in what will become an annual Christmas Eve tradition, 1955
Shooting begins on "The Cage" the pilot for the Star Trek series, 1964
The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so, 1968
Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Australia, 1974
The first European Ariane rocket is launched, 1979
The Spanish police thwart an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid's busy Chamartín Station, 2003
8 hours ago