This Christmas was very special, because there was a big surprise for us. John was not aware of the surprise Mother had for us. If John knew the secret, he would have told me. Every Christmas John would tell me what we were going to get on Christmas morning. He would always go into a room we called the back room. It was a room I did not enter by myself because it was void of furniture. John would tell me to wait at the door and be a lookout for the adults in the house. Of course, he did not want them to see him looking for the toys before Christmas. My brother was always successful in his hunt for toys. When he would emerge from the room, he always told me exactly what I was going to get for Christmas. Even when he told me, I thought that Santa Claus had hid them and was going to put them under the tree himself. I knew Santa's carriage was not large enough to carry all the toys for every boy and girl in the world. Since I wanted to believe in Santa so badly, I never thought anything else about it.
Well, I would always secretly tell Mother exactly what John would tell me. She decided he would not find the toys this Christmas, so that my fantasy about Santa would not die. This Christmas would be a total surprise for both of us.
This Christmas John visited the back room as usual, but when he came out, after my close watch for the grown-up people, he looked so disappointed. He did not want to tell me all he found was some candy, fruit and nuts. Each day John would visit the back room until Christmas morning. Then he gently sat me down and tried to explain that Santa had been sick and was not able to get around to all the boys and girls for Christmas. John assured me that Santa's brother, Cranky, would bring me something on New Year's eve.
I told Mother how Santa would not be coming to our house for Christmas. She wanted to know why and I repeated to her the song and dance story my brother had given me.
"Well, Santa has been really sick and he is not able to buy toys for all the boys and girls, so he is sending his brother on New year's Eve to bring us a few things."
Mother acted as if she was very surprised and hurt for poor Santa because he was sick.
Christmas morning, my brother and I were not in a hurry to get up. We tried to sleep late, but Mother woke us up for early breakfast. Grandfather was laughing to himself and, of course, I wanted to know what Grandpa was laughing about.
"Grandpa, why are you so tickled this morning?" I asked.
All he said is,"The joke is on you."
I was peeved and wanted to say, "Drat you," but I knew I had better hold my tongue.
Grandpa was tickled, because Mother had out-witted John, who thought he was so wise about Santa Claus. This Christmas the family got what they wanted and that was to make John believe in Santa Claus once more.
When we did get up, we did not go to the Christmas tree, because we were so sure Santa had not come. We washed our hands, face and teeth and started for the breakfast table when Mother reminded us to go see what Santa had brought us. John acted like, who are you trying to fool?
But, hopeful that the old guy was well enough to come to my house, I asked, "Did Santa really come last night?"
Mother only told us to see for ourselves. I got excited all over again and ran to the living room and the Christmas tree. There was a tall box under the tree and a long box. The tall box had the name Lee on it and the long box had John on it. I gave a squeal and this brought John running to the tree.
"Gee whiz, I wonder what is in this box!" I said to Mother.
She replied, "Open it."
I did open it and I found the most beautiful doll, which could be wound so that she could walk. I was so happy that I helped my brother open his box. We found a surprise for him, too. It was a train that he could wind and put on the tracks that also came in the box. The train whistle blew and blew. We were a happy pair.
We played with our toys all day and were so thankful we still believed in Santa Claus, which we knew was the spirit of Christmas. The joy of Christmas was restored once more for the Claiborne family.
Mother had to call us in for breakfast and we could see the joy on our grandfather's face as he watched us and listened to the excitement in our voices. This was a very happy Christmas for the two of us, but we did not forget to give our family our small gifts we had made at school. Each adult acted as if the gifts we gave were fit for a king or queen. We did a lot of hugging and kissing this Christmas. Everybody was in a joyful mood. We children were happy and felt secure.
Christmas Eve in the Claiborne household began with a pleasant evening. John and Lee, were shooting firecrackers and displaying designs with their sparkles. Grandfather was sitting in the dining room snuggled close to the big wood heater so that he could remain warm. It had been snowing outside in the afternoon. The rain had just began to fall and the snow was melting. This made the backyard very slippery.
Mother and Nan were in the kitchen preparing food for the next day. The aroma from the food cooking was very inviting and the children wanted to sample each dish being prepared. Mother never waited until the next day to give Lee or John anything they asked for while she was cooking.
She always said, "Give it to them now or we may regret it."
Nan was always the anxious aunt and loved to play pranks on the children. It was around nine o'clock or later and Nan was anxious for the children to go to bed so the toys could be put under the Christmas tree.
Nan went in her room and dressed up in a Santa Claus suit and came around the house to the back porch. The children were busy shooting their firecrackers there, being supplied with fire sticks by Grandfather.
Lee was extremely afraid of Santa Claus. John knew that, so he pulled her behind him and told her to get fire sticks from Grandpa while he threw firecrackers at Santa.
Grandpa muttered, "I'm glad Cora, that boy is burning your backside up. Santa don't play that. Never make the children believe that Santa wants to harm them."
Santa did a lot of slipping and sliding in the back yard trying to escape the wrath of John and his firecrackers. John saw that he had Santa at a disadvantage and he began to chase him. But Grandpa saw the action through the dining room window and called out to John to come back. This gave Santa more time and a chance to get around the house and through the front door. Santa was almost too late, because Lee was running through the house trying to get to Nan who was suppose to be in bed.
Lee wanted to tell Nan about the visit from Santa Claus, but guess what Lee saw? Nan was not completely covered with her blanket. Lee saw one black boot on Nan's foot and her house slipper on the other foot. She also saw the mud on Nan's arms and face. Lee was a very good pretender and she told her story with lots of exciting gestures.
Lee was disappointed with Nan's pretense of being Santa Claus, but she kept that to herself. In a few days Lee did write Santa a letter with the help of Grandpa. She told him that someone was dressing up as him and trying to frighten little children.
Santa answered her letter promptly. He informed her that his brother, Cranky, who was just the opposite of him, had encouraged Nan to pretend to be him. Santa wrote:
"Don't be frightened Lee. I will come visit your home every Christmas Eve. Because Santa don't play that."
How often have we sung, "Joy to the world, let Earth receive Her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heav'n and Nature sing?"
Yet, do we hear what the Christmas music means? We still have joy if we only put Christ back into the word Christmas and stop X-ing Him out with the symbol that Satan has created. Christmas means that we should begin by spelling Christmas with the Holy name of the man from Nazareth who's name begins with a capital letter: Christmas and not Xmas. If we do this, we are exiting Christ out of the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is a good time to show Love to many of our children who are trying to make a statement by being rebellious. It is a time to invite Christ into our lives and live so others will want to accept the invitation to Christ that we have offered them.
I particularly like this statement spoken by one of the wealthiest people in the world:
I worshipped 400 million gods, but none of them spoke to me. Finally, I found the One Who would speak to me and I found Love, Peace and Joy that we sing about in "Joy to the world."
He rules with truth and grace and makes the nations prove, The glories of His righteousness, "And wonders of His love, and wonders of His Love, and wonders, wonders of His Love."
I have read and sometimes heard testimonies about glorious and alleluia times. One woman found God and was thrown out of her rich family's home because she would rather spend eternity in heaven than a life of wealth on earth. We -- my family -- were told, before my grandchild was born, that she would have downs syndrome. But, after fervent constant prayer, today she is all right and there's not a sign of the syndrome. In fact she is only two and can sing along with you, "A,B,C,D,E,F,G,etc."
God's own love is the reason each of us exists. I took the preacher's hand when I was six years old, but I accepted Jesus into my life over thirty years ago. I tell you life has been glory by the grace of God that we hear in the song, "Joy to the world." We sing the song and never stop to think what the Christmas music means.
Another Christmas story is told through music when we sing:
That glorious song of old
From angels bending near the Earth
To touch their harps of gold
"Peace on the Earth Good will to men, from Heaven's all-gracious King." This is another song about peace and war.
Listen to this, "Yet with the woes of sin and strife, The world has suffered long. Beneath the angels' strains have rolled two-thousand years of wrong"; And "Man, at war with man, hears not The love-song which they bring."
I confess, my life was a mess before I knew the meaning of warring with flesh and before I knew I had to put on the whole armor of God to defeat Satan. I hung over a cliff above a big body of water and should have been dead, but God was always there to fight my battles and pull me from the brink of death. I look back, shiver, and thank God because He has brought me through many dangers toils and snares. Now I know that I have already come.
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Until He appeared, and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
How often do we sang Christmas carols,yet we know not what they mean. In this carol, we have hope. Most of us have experienced hope sometime or another in our lives. I was regretting the past in my life and fearing the future until I learned God's name and that gave me hope. Will your Hope story be next?
The last carol that I will expound upon is:
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember, Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we had gone astray.
Now we understand now, the meaning of Christmas. Remember be prepared to fight Satan by wearing our entire armor. Whatever we do from this day forward, we know that Christmas means: