Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 Days of Christmas Stories and Scriptures Days 5 & 6

Day 5--Matthew 1:18-25

Day 6--3 Nephi 1:12-21

Story Day 5
Just last Monday night I had a strange visitor. This is how it happened. I had just finished the household chores for the night and
was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the front room, and to my
surprise, a special visitor stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his fingers over his lips so I would not cry out.
"What are you doing?" I started to ask, but the words choked up in my throat as I saw that he had tears in his eyes. He then
answered me with the simple statement of "Teach the children." I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question
and with one quick movement, brought a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood there in my night shirt bewildered, the
visitor said again, "Teach the children." My perplexed expression still showed in the near darkness. "Teach them the old meaning
of Christmas*the meaning that Christmas now-days has forgotten." I started to say, "How can I?" when the visitor reached into
the toy bag and pulled out a brilliant shiny star. "Teach the children the star was the heavenly sign of promise long ago. God
promised a Savior for the world and a sign of the fulfillment of his promise. The countless shining stars at night*one for each
man*now show the burning hope of all mankind." The visitor gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the
bag a glittering red Christmas ornament. "Teach the children red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful
people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all people by the Savior. Christ gave his life and shed his blood that every
man might have God's gift to all*eternal life. Red is deep, intense, vivid*it is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of
God." As the visitor was twisting and pulling another object out of his bag, I heard the kitchen clock begin to strike twelve. I
wanted to say something but he went right on. "Teach the children," he said, as the twisting and pulling suddenly dislodged a
small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantel and gently hung the red ornament. Here was
the second color of Christmas. "The pure color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round," he said. "This depicts the
everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All the needles point heavenward*symbolic
of man's returning thoughts toward heaven. The great, green tree has been man's best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him,
made beauty for him, formed his furniture. The visitor's eyes were beginning to twinkle now as he stood there. Suddenly I heard
a soft tinkling sound. As it grew louder, it seemed like the sound of long ago. "Teach the children, that as the lost sheep are found
by the sound of the bell, so should it ring for man to return to the fold*it means guidance and return. It further signifies that all are
precious in the eyes of the Lord. Who is there among you if his son ask for bread would give him a stone?" As the soft sharp
sound of the bell faded into the night, the visitor drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny
flame cast an erie glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in the room slowly danced and weaved upon the walls. "Teach the
children," whispered the visitor, "that the candle shows man's thanks for the star of long ago; it's small light is the mirror of the
star light. At first candles were placed on the Christmas tree*they were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green.
Safety now has removed the candles from the tree and the colored lights have taken over in that remembrance." The visitor now
had turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from under the tree. He pointed to the large bow ribbon and
said, "A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the spirit of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied
as man should be tied*all of us together, with the bonds of good will toward each other. Good will forever is the message of the
bow." Now my mind began to wonder what else the visitor might have in his bag. Instead of reaching in his bag, he slung it over
his shoulder and began to reach up on the Christmas tree. I though he was hungry as he reached for a candy cane purposely
placed high on the tree. He unfastened it and reached out toward me with it. "Teach the children that the candy cane represents
the shepherd's crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep of the fold. The candy cane is the symbol that we
are our brother's keepers." The visitor then paused. He seemed to realize that he should be on his way. As he looked about the
room a feeling of satisfaction shined on his face. He read wonderment in my eyes and I am sure he sensed my admiration for this
night. He was his old self as he approached the front door. The twinkle in his eyes gave the visitor away. I knew he wasn't
through yet. He reached into his bag and brought forth a large holly wreath. He placed it at the door and said, "Please teach the
children the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love; it never ceases, stops, or ends. It is one continuous round of affection.
The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It should remind us of many things of Christmas.
Please teach the children." I pondered and wondered and thrilled with delight as I sat and viewed all those symbols that night. I
dozed as I sat in the soft candle light, and my thoughts were of the visitor and all he made right. To give and to help, to love and
to serve, are the best things of life, all men can deserve. Jesus the Christ Child as small as an elf, is the very best symbol of
Christmas itself. He's the sign of the gift of love and of life, the ending of evil, the ceasing of strife. The message to me on this
pre-Christmas night has opened a treasure of deepest insight.
The one thing on earth we all ought to do, is the teaching of children the right and the true.

Story – Day 6
RUDOLPH- That Amazing Reindeer
On a December night in Chicago several years ago, a little girl climbed onto her father's
lap and asked a question. It was a simple question, asked in children's curiosity, yet it had
a heart-rending effect on Robert May. "Daddy," four-year old Barbara asked, "Why isn't
my Mommy just like everybody else's mommy?"
Bob May stole a glance across his shabby two room apartment. On a couch lay his young
wife, Evelyn, racked with cancer. For two years she had been bedridden; for two years,
all Bob's income and smaller savings had gone to pay for treatments and medicines. The
terrible ordeal already had shattered two adult lives. Now Bob suddenly realized the
happiness of his growing daughter was also in jeopardy. As he ran his fingers through
Barbara's hair, he prayed for some satisfactory answer to her question.
Bob May knew only too well what it meant to be "different." As a child he had been
weak and delicate. With the innocent cruelty of children, his playmates had continually
goaded the stunted, skinny lad to tears. Later at Dartmouth, from which he was graduated
in 1926, Bob May was so small that he was always being mistaken for someone's little
brother. Nor was his adult life much happier. Unlike many of his classmates who floated
from college into plush jobs, Bob became a lowly copy writer for Montgomery Ward, the
big Chicago mail order house. Now at 33 Bob was deep in debt, depressed and sad.
Although Bob did not know it at the time, the answer he gave the tousled haired child on
his lap was to bring him to fame and fortune. It was also to bring joy to countless
thousands of children like his own Barbara. On that December night in the shabby
Chicago apartment, Bob cradled his little girl's head against his shoulder and began to tell
a story...

"Once upon a time there was a reindeer named Rudolph, the only reindeer in the world that had a big red nose. Naturally people called him Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." As Bob went on to tell about Rudolph, he tried desperately to communicate to Barbara the knowledge that, even though some creatures of God are strange and different, they often enjoy the miraculous power to make others happy.

Rudolph, Bob explained, was terribly embarrassed by his unique nose. Other reindeer laughed at him; his mother and father and sister were mortified too. Even Rudolph wallowed in self pity.

"Well," continued Bob, "one Christmas Eve, Santa Claus got his team of husky reindeer - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen ready for their yearly trip around the world. The entire reindeer community assembled to cheer these great heroes on their way. But a terrible fog engulfed the earth that evening, and Santa knew that the mist was so thick he wouldn't be able to find any chimneys.

Suddenly Rudolph appeared, his red nose glowing brighter than ever. Santa sensed at once that here was the answer to his perplexing problem. He led Rudolph to the front of the sleigh, fastened the harness and climbed in. They were off! Rudolph guided Santa safely to every chimney that night. Rain and fog, snow and sleet; nothing bothered Rudolph, for his bright nose penetrated the mist like a beacon.

And so it was that Rudolph became the most famous and beloved of all the reindeer. The huge red nose he once hid in shame was now the envy of every buck and doe in the reindeer world. Santa Claus told everyone that Rudolph had saved the day and from that Christmas, Rudolph has been living serenely and happy."

Little Barbara laughed with glee when her father finished. Every night she begged him to
repeat the tale until finally Bob could rattle it off in his sleep. Then, at Christmas time he
decided to make the story into a poem like "The Night Before Christmas" and prepare it
in bookish form illustrated with pictures, for Barbara's personal gift. Night after night,
Bob worked on the verses after Barbara had gone to bed for he was determined his
daughter should have a worthwhile gift, even though he could not afford to buy one...
Then as Bob was about to put the finishing touches on Rudolph, tragedy struck. Evelyn
May died. Bob, his hopes crushed, turned to Barbara as chief comfort. Yet, despite his
grief, he sat at his desk in the quiet, now lonely apartment, and worked on "Rudolph"
with tears in his eyes.
Shortly after Barbara had cried with joy over his handmade gift on Christmas morning,
Bob was asked to an employee's holiday party at Montgomery Wards. He didn't want to
go, but his office associates insisted. When Bob finally agreed, he took with him the
poem and read it to the crowd. First the noisy throng listened in laughter and gaiety. Then
they became silent, and at the end, broke into spontaneous applause. That was in 1938.
By Christmas of 1947, some 6,000,000 copies of the booklet had been given away or
sold, making Rudolph one of the most widely distributed books in the world. The demand
for Rudolph sponsored products, increased so much in variety and number that educators
and historians predicted Rudolph would come to occupy a permanent place in the
Christmas legend.
Through the years of unhappiness, the tragedy of his wife's death and his ultimate success
with Rudolph, Bob May has captured a sense of serenity. And as each Christmas rolls
around he recalls with thankfulness the night when his daughter, Barbara's questions
inspired him to write the story.

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