‘But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”
by Shannon Garms
Imagine … grinning with anticipation
Imagine being tucked beneath a freshly-warmed, homemade quilt and snuggling upon a bed of hay, grinning with anticipation at your whole family. With a jolt, the old farm tractor suddenly roars to life and you’re off! The flatbed trailer upon which everyone is riding, chugs up the mountain, high above your grandparents’ farmhouse.
As your beloved Pa-Paw stops his tractor in front of each homestead, neighbors pour outside, gathering ‘round and joining in, adding their voices to those of your own family, joyfully singing Christmas Carols on that cold, starry Christmas Eve.
For me, since that night, Christmas has always been a time of magic, mystery and miracles! On that blessed Christmas Eve, all eleven of us happily came together. Sitting nestled closely beside by my champion, my Darling Ma-Maw, during those magical, beautiful hours, there was no pain, bitterness or deceit hanging heavily in the air above our heads.
The best Christmas of my childhood
Instead, it was a time of blissfully singing Carols of Our Savior’s birth and sharing that love with all those around us.
Isn’t it remarkable that even now, all these many years later, when I think of Christmastime, that night, that single, perfect night encompasses not only the best Christmas of my childhood, but undoubtedly the best evening of my childhood, as well?
Once my Pa-Paw retired from his long career as a firefighter, and he and my Ma-Maw began to enjoy living on their long-awaited farm, life for my younger brother and younger-still cousin became full of the kind of magic that three city kids can only read about in books!
If we weren’t with Pa-Paw and Ma-Maw down on their farm, we truly weren’t happy! And it was simply inconceivable, that we wouldn’t be with my Ma-Maw and Pa-Paw to celebrate Christmas! At that time, our families were so young. I was still in elementary school and the boys were several years behind me.
My memories center on the harmony
I am quite positive, knowing my Ma-Maw, that we’d eaten our big family dinner hours before, in order to have plenty of time for the Christmas Tree. She knew that some of the family would be up early and heading off to visit other relatives in the morning. Perhaps we all left on Christmas Morn? Possibly. My memories center on the harmony of our voices and the harmony that existed in our family for perhaps the very last time, during the joyful Carol singing on that tractor ride.
Vividly, I remember my Ma-Maw, proudly calling her three sons-in-law, “my sons” as she introduced them to neighbors we hadn’t yet met. I still feel awash in relief as I recall the good-natured way that different siblings chose to let what would typically have been considered ‘pointed’ comments pass-by without retort. When one of “the boys,” which is what my Pa-Paw lovingly called his sons-in-law, was asked to ‘turn the thanks,’ which humbly meant praying a simple blessing of thanksgiving over a delicious snack that we were offered by one family, my Dad simply bowed his head respectfully rather than causing an embarrassing scene.
Our Family was part of a Christmastime miracle
For that one Holy Christmas Eve, our family was part of a Christmastime miracle. In reflecting on it, all these countless times since, I’ve come to understand that this was because my Pa-Paw and Ma-Maw surprised not only we children with this special outing, but more importantly, all the feuding adults, as well. Most likely, they simply didn’t have enough time to react poorly. My Pa-Paw wasn’t a man to be reckoned with in those days. He had undoubtedly conceived of this idea and developed it ahead of time with all their neighbors. Then, he and my Ma-Maw unveiled it as a great act of mystery upon our entire family.
Indeed, in doing so, he modeled for me the essence of what not only Christmastime, but indeed, family-time should be about! He had such a simple faith. He was a common, ordinary, flawed man. And yet, in faith, he took such pains to stop the fractures developing in his family, while they still could be healed.
He made his unspoken case for a life spent in majestic closeness with Our Savior
He relied on his faith to pull his daughters and the men they had married back from the brink…and even if they wouldn’t return to safety, he was determined to save his grandchildren. He saved me. He is solely responsible for standing in the gap for me on that Christmas Eve, when he made his unspoken case for a life spent in majestic closeness with Our Savior.
You know, I don’t remember him even singing…he just turned in his tractor chair and looked at us with such deeply-felt hope.
So often it takes that family member…standing in the gap…bringing about a night of magic and watching expectantly as it takes root and then miraculously sets a person apart…forever truly and safely outside the fray. He wanted that for each of us. He succeeded with me. So much hardship and anguish lay ahead for all of us riding together in that trailer. Much more than he could’ve guessed.
Our Father knew though, and for each of us, and for each of you, He lovingly sent His Son, Our Savior, Jesus Christ. This Christmas, if you’ve wanted to and haven’t yet, you may pray according to God’s Word to accept Him:
‘That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’