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Only 24 days till Christmas! I’m so excited for Christmas to come. Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Ours was wonderful and very busy! I’m sending a short note to remind you that it’s December 1 and today would be a great time to purchase Countdown to Christmas because the stories and activities in the book begin on December 1st. If you want to see all the particulars and read a sample from the book go to this page, http://amypuetz.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=57
Here is what others are saying:
I am only on page 15 and already am tearing up. This is gorgeous!! I love this! What a fabulous collection. WOW! -Erica
I’ve read "The Conscience Pudding" before and enjoyed it immensely. If the rest of your stories are that good, you’ve got a real winner of a book! -Matthew
I didn’t look through the entire thing but I loved what I saw so far and look forward to starting it. I printed off all the coloring sheets from the bonus book--I really like that you have images for a variety of ability levels (I might even do a couple myself)! -Jill
Looks great--can’t wait to get started!! Thanks for your work in putting it together, looks really neat!! -Alisa
Start a new family tradition this year with Countdown to Christmas!
Countdown to Christmas
And now on with this edition of Heroines of the Past! Enjoy!
It’s that sacred time of year again, that wonderful time each year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. I hope and pray that you will feel the love of God during this precious time. Three wonderful stories are awaiting you in this issue of Heroines. The first, Becky’s Christmas Dream by Louisa May Alcott, is my personal favorite. I discovered this delightful story many years ago and have often longed to share it with others. Finally this Christmas I’m able to! This story also appears in my newly released book Countdown to Christmas, 25 Daily Stories and Activities for Your Family! Get in the Christmas mood by spending quality family time together by reading the stories and then enjoying the various activities in Countdown to Christmas. Details here.
The next story is The Visitors by Annalisa Perry. Set in Germany during the Nazi rule, a family faces a difficult decision on Christmas Eve. And the third story is a beautiful retelling of the Christmas story called Unto Us a Child is Born.
May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas! You are very special to me, dear friends!
Celebrating the Christ Child,
Heroines of the Past
P.O. Box 429
Wright, WY 82732
Becky’s Christmas Dream
By Louisa May Alcott
All alone, by the kitchen fire, sat little Becky, for everyone else had gone away to keep Christmas and left her to take care of the house. Nobody had thought to give her any presents, or take her to any merrymaking, or remembered that Christmas should be made a happy time to every child, whether poor or rich. She was only twelve years old--this little girl from the poorhouse, who was bound to work for the farmer's wife till she was eighteen. She had no father or mother, no friends or home but this, and as she sat alone by the fire her little heart ached for someone to love and cherish her.
Becky was a shy, quiet child, with a thin face and wistful eyes that always seemed trying to find something that she wanted very much. She worked away, day after day, so patiently and silently that no one ever guessed what curious thoughts filled the little cropped head, or what a tender child's heart was hidden under the blue checked pinafore.
Tonight she was wishing that there were fairies in the world, who would whisk down the chimney and give her quantities of pretty things, as they did in the delightful fairy tales.
“I'm sure I am as poor and lonely as Cinderella, and need a kind godmother to help me as much as ever she did,” said Becky to herself. She sat on her little stool staring at the fire, which didn't burn very well, for she felt too much out of sorts to care whether things looked cheerful or not.
There is an old belief that all dumb things can speak for one hour on Christmas Eve. Now, Becky knew nothing of this story and no one can say whether what happened was true or whether she fell asleep and dreamed it. But certain it is when Becky compared herself to Cinderella, she was amazed to hear a small voice reply
“Well, my dear, if you want advice, I shall be very glad to give you some, for I've had much experience in this trying world.”
Becky stared about her, but all she saw was the old gray cat, blinking at the fire.
“Did you speak, Tabby?” said the child, at last.
“Of course I did. If you wish a godmother, here I am.”
Becky laughed at the idea; but Puss, with her silver-gray suit, white handkerchief crossed on her bosom, kind, motherly old face, and cozy purr, did make a very good Quakerish little godmother after all.
“Well, ma'am, I'm ready to listen,” said Becky respectfully.
“First, my child, what do you want most?” asked the godmother, quite in the fairy-book style.
“To be loved by everybody,” answered Becky.
“Good!” said the cat. “I'm pleased with that answer, it's sensible, and I'll tell you how to get your wish. Learn to make people love you by loving them.”
“I don't know how,” sighed Becky.
“No more did I in the beginning,” returned Puss. “When I first came here, a shy young kitten, I thought only of keeping out of everybody's way, for I was afraid of everyone. I hid under the barn and only came out when no one was near. I wasn't happy, for I wanted to be petted, but didn't know how to begin.
“One day I heard Aunt Sally say to the master, 'James, that wild kitten isn't any use at all, you had better drown her and get a nice tame one to amuse the children and clear the house of mice.'
“'The poor thing has been abused, I guess, so we will give her another trial and maybe she will come to trust us after a while,' said the good master.
“I thought over these things as I lay under the barn and resolved to do my best, for I did not want to be drowned. It was hard at first, but I began by coming out when little Jane called me and letting her play with me. Then I ventured into the house, and finding a welcome at my first visit, I went again and took a mouse with me to show that I wasn't idle. No one hurt or frightened me and soon I was the household pet. For several years I have led a happy life here.”
Becky listened eagerly and when Puss had ended she said timidly, “Do you think if I try not to be afraid, but to show that I want to be affectionate, the people will let me and will like it?”
“Very sure. I heard the mistress say you were a good, handy little thing. Do as I did, my dear, and you will find that there is plenty of love in the world.”
“I will. Thank you, dear old Puss, for your advice.”
Puss came to rub her soft cheek against Becky's hand, and then settled herself in a cozy hunch in Becky's lap. Presently another voice spoke--a queer, monotonous voice, high above her.
“Tick, tick; wish again, little Becky, and I'll tell you how to find your wish.”
It was the old moon-faced clock behind the door, which had struck twelve just before Tabby first spoke.
“Dear me,” said Becky, “how queerly things do act tonight!” She thought a moment then said soberly, “I wish I liked my work better. Washing dishes, picking chips and hemming towels is such tiresome work, I don't see how I can go on doing it for six more years.”
“Just what I used to feel,” said the clock. “I couldn't bear to think that I had to stand here and do nothing but tick year after year. I flatly said I wouldn't, and I stopped a dozen times a day. Bless me, what a fuss I made until I was put in this corner to stand idle for several months. At first I rejoiced, then I got tired of doing nothing and began to reflect that as I was born a clock, it would be wiser to do my duty and get some satisfaction out of it if I could.”
“And so you went to going again--please teach me to be faithful and to love my duty,” cried Becky.
“I will,” and the old clock grandly struck the half hour, with a smile on its round face, as it steadily ticked on.
Here the fire blazed up and the tea-kettle hanging on the crane began to sing.
“How cheerful that is!” said Becky, as the whole kitchen brightened with the ruddy glow. “If I could have a third wish, I'd wish to be as cheerful as the fire.”
“Have your wish if you choose, but you must work for it, as I do,” cried the fire, as its flames embraced the old kettle till it gurgled with pleasure.
Becky thought she heard a queer voice humming these words:
“I'm an old black kettle,
With a very crooked nose,
But I can't help being happy
When the jolly fire glows.”
“I shouldn't wonder a mite if that child had been up to mischief tonight, rummaged all over the house, eaten herself sick, or stolen something and run away with it,” fretted Aunt Sally, as the family went jingling home in the big sleigh about one o'clock from the Christmas party.
“Tut, tut, Aunty, I wouldn't think evil of the poor little thing. If I'd had my way she would have gone with us and had a good time. She doesn't look as if she had seen many, and I have a notion it is what she needs,” said the farmer kindly.
“The thought of her alone at home has worried me all the evening, but she didn't seem to mind, and I haven't had time to get a respectable dress ready for her to wear, so I let it go,” added the farmer's wife, as she cuddled little Jane under the cloaks and shawls, with a regretful memory of Becky knocking at her heart.
“I've got some popcorn and a bouncing big apple for her,” said Billy, the red-faced lad perched up by his father playing drive.
“And I'll give her one of my dolls. She said she never had one, wasn't that dreadful?” put in little Jane, popping out her head like a bird from its nest.
“Better see what she has been doing first,” advised Aunt Sally. “If she hasn't done any mischief and has remembered to have the kettle boiling so I can have a cup of hot tea after my ride, and if she has kept the fire up and warmed my slippers, I don't know but I'll give her the red mittens I knitted.”
They found poor Becky lying on the bare floor, her head pillowed on the stool, and old Tabby in her arms, with a corner of the blue pinafore spread over her. The fire was burning splendidly, the kettle simmering, and in a row upon the hearth stood, not only Aunt Sally's old slippers, but those of master and mistress also, and over a chair hung two little nightgowns warming for the children.
“Well now, if that don't beat all for thoughtfulness and sense! Becky shall have them mittens, and I'll knit her a couple of pair of stockings as sure as she's living,” said Aunt Sally, completely won by this unusual proof of “forehandedness” in a servant.
So Aunt Sally laid the gay mittens close to the little rough hand that had worked so busily all day. Billy set his big red apple and bag of popcorn just where she would see them when she woke. Jane laid the doll in Becky's arms, and Tabby smelt of it approvingly, to the children's delight. The farmer had no present ready, but he stroked the little cropped head with a fatherly touch that made Becky smile in her sleep, as he said within himself, “I will do by this forlorn child as I would wish any one to do by my Janey if she were left alone.” But the mother gave the best gift of all, for she stooped down and kissed Becky as only mothers can kiss. The good woman's heart reproached her for neglect of the child who had no mother.
That unusual touch wakened Becky at once, and looking about her with astonished eyes, she saw such a wonderful change in all the faces, that she clapped her hands and cried with a happy laugh, “My dream's come true! Oh, my dream's come true!”
This story is taken from Countdown to Christmas, Memory Making Stories and Activities for Every Day from December 1st to the 25th. Read all about this exciting new book and find out how you can get your copy!
The Visitors By Annalisa Perry
Dresden, Germany, December 24, 1939
“When can we go downstairs, Leisa?” Johann asked for the fifth time.
I sighed. “It’s almost time,” I assured my little brother. Mama had banished my younger brothers and me upstairs to the nursery on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
“Will St. Nicholas give me enough candy to share with Putzi?” Beni asked, stroking our cat. Putzi lay at my feet, looking up at us with intelligent eyes.
“Of course, St. Nicholas will give us plenty of candy. He’s downstairs right now, filling your stocking,” I said, even though I knew it was Mama who was trimming the tree and wrapping the presents.
“When will Papa be home?” Johann poked me. He is three and likes to have all the attention.
“Soon,” I said, though I doubted it. These days he always came home late and he rarely smiled. His new job for the government kept him busy. Papa and Mama didn’t talk much either. As far as I could tell, Mama was upset at Papa for taking the job. I never could find out what he did. Once I asked him. Papa had sighed and buried his head deeper into his newspaper.
“You’re too young to understand,” he murmured.
“I’m fourteen,” I said.
“It’s complicated,” Papa said.
“Is it something wrong?” I asked, remembering Mama’s sad smiles.
That got his attention. He threw down his newspaper. “Leisa, where do you get these ideas?” he asked, rubbing his hands together and cracking his knuckles. He does that when he is nervous or upset.
I continued to stare at him, waiting for an answer. He picked his newspaper up. “I’m relocating people for the government- finding them different housing.” He tried to find his place on the page.
“Why?” I asked.
“Leisa, let me finish my newspaper,” he said sharply.
I knew he was talking about the Jews. The Jews around Dresden all seemed to be disappearing. I would hate to be a Jew, I thought. They aren’t allowed to go to restaurants or theaters or public schools. They even have to wear yellow stars, marked “Jude.”
People never talk about the Jews. If I asked someone where the Jews went, they would frown at me and say, “Little girls shouldn’t ask so many questions.” The one person who I could talk to was the baker, Markus, who lived across the street, behind his bakery. Whenever I needed a talk, I would take 20 pfennig and go for an apple turnover. When he wasn’t busy with customers, he would talk to me as he kneaded the bread dough. Last week when I asked him where all the Jews went, his face darkened.
“To horrible places, Leisa,” he had answered. “Places you cannot imagine.”
“Why?” I asked.
“It’s difficult to explain,” Markus punched and pounded the dough on the counter as if he wanted to kill it. His blue eyes were bright and angry. “That madman thinks he will make a perfect world by killing the Jews.”
The words seemed to pound inside my head. Kill the Jews. Kill the Jews. Did Papa really…surely not! Why did Papa work for the government if they killed Jews? Aren’t Jews people too? Sometimes I also talk to Markus about the war. He was the only person I knew who doesn’t seem pleased that Germany had taken Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
“Wake up, Leisa!” Johann poked me again and I jumped.
“Sorry, I was thinking.” I said, glancing out the window. The snowflakes fell so thickly that I couldn’t see anything else.
From the back of the house, Mama can’t hear the door.
It’s probably Markus, with our Christmas cinnamon buns.
“Wait in here while I answer the door,” I told my brothers.
I tiptoed downstairs, hoping for a cheerful word from the baker. Instead I found two children on my doorstep, a girl and a boy. Their coats were wet and dirty and their boots were falling apart. But what I noticed most were their eyes--huge and sad, with dark circles around them.
“Is this the house?” the girl asked expectantly.
“What?” I asked.
“We need help. Can you help us?”
Suddenly I noticed the yellow star on her coat; the big black letters said Jude.
“We’ve been walking all day,” she said. “Someone on this street is supposed to help us but I don’t remember which house.” She coughed and I knew she was sick. I thought of Papa.
“I’m sorry, there’s been some mistake. This is the wrong house.”
“Come on, Jakob,” the girl said. She turned and fainted.
Her brother lay down beside her in the snow and said, “Wake up, Lea.” He turned terrified eyes to me and said, “Please help her.”
I couldn’t leave them on my doorstep. I helped Jakob drag the girl inside and poured some water on her face. She opened her eyes. I gently helped her upstairs to my bed.
“I’ll find you something to eat,” I said. “Don’t make a noise.” I hurried to the nursery.
“Who was that? What were you doing?” Beni asked.
“Listen to me,” I said. “Stay in the nursery. Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back.”
I knew better than to ask our grumpy cook, Bet, for something to eat. Ignoring my brother’s questions, I grabbed my coat and went outside. It was still snowing and almost dark. I hurried across the street. The line of people waiting for bread was long and I couldn’t wait. I pushed my way through the people arguing about whose turn it was and slipped behind the counter where Markus was frantically filling bags with rolls and serving coffee and making change all at once.
“Give me a hand, Leisa,” he said, impatiently.
“Markus!” I whispered.
“40 pfennig is your change, thank you. Next!” Markus said to the customer.
“There’s two children…” I said as loud as I dared.
An impatient man pushed to the front and yelled, “I need five raisin rolls!”
Markus filled up the sack of rolls. “One mark, please” he said.
“They’re Jews!” I hissed.
“WHAT?!” he cried, upsetting the man who yelled, “FIVE RAISIN ROLLS!”
“No!” Markus threw the bag of rolls at the man, grabbed my arm and pulled me to the back of the bakery.
“How many Jews?” he asked.
“Two children. I didn’t want to take them in but the girl fainted and I need some food for them so I thought--”
Markus filled a bag with food and handed it to me. “Take this. They came to the wrong house. They were supposed to--” he stopped suddenly.
“Does your father know?” he asked.
“He’s not home yet. Mama’s decorating the tree in the back room.”
“Alright, listen to me. Feed the children and give them some dry clothes. I’ll bring the cinnamon buns as soon as I can. Send them out the back door and I’ll pick them up.”
“Will they be safe?” I asked.
“With me? Of course. But don’t tell anyone. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” I took the bag and hurried home. I could hear Mama in the living room, working busily behind the shut door. Upstairs I found Beni and Johann sitting on my bed, talking to our visitors.
“I told you stay in the nursery!” I said, impatiently.
“We were talking to our friends,” Beni said.
“They’re Jews!” Johann said cheerfully.
“I brought you some food,” I said. I gave them the bag and they crammed the bread into their mouth as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks.
“Come here, Beni and Johann,” I said, leading them back to the nursery.
“Listen to me,” I said. “We have to help these Jews. We can’t tell anyone they’re here. Bring me some of your clothes to give to them.”
Soon we had given the Jewish children a dry change of clothes. I told them, “Wait here. When I signal Beni, he will show you to the back door. A man will take you to safety.”
The girl, Lea, grabbed my hand and said, “Thank you.”
Click. A key turned in the lock downstairs and the front door swung open. I hurried to the door and peeked out. You can stand in the doorway of the nursery and see the hallway downstairs but the people downstairs can’t see you. Papa was taking off his wet coat.
“Beni and Johann, get back to your room,” I hissed and they did as I said.
At that moment Mama came out of the living room, a candle in her hand. “It’s time!” she called to us. Then she saw Papa.
“You’re home,” she said, sharply.
“I got here in time, didn’t I?” he said.
“Yes. We weren’t expecting you.” Mama said.
“Suzanne, I came home for Christmas. Can’t you be grateful for that?”
“Grateful! John, I cannot be grateful. I thought I might be happy with your good job for the Gestapo. But I’m not. I cringe when I think of you dragging Jews from their homes. The money you bring home is blood money!”
“Don’t talk to me about Jews!” Papa shouted.
“Hannah was my friend. They were people just like us--but you and your friends do not care. They are Jews so they must go.”
Papa rubbed his hands and cracked his knuckles.
“You will not speak to me like that in my house!” he thundered.
Mama eyes filled with tears and she turned and fled to the back room. Papa went to his bedroom and slammed the door.
I ran downstairs and found Markus at the door. “Here are your rolls,” he said cheerfully. He gave me a questioning look and I shook my head.
“Good-bye!” he said, motioning for me to send the children to the back door.
I shut the door and signaled Beni. He led Lea and Jakob down the stairs and through the hallway. At that moment the bedroom door opened and Papa came out, wearing an angry frown. He stopped when he saw them.
“What is this?!”
We had removed the children’s stars but there was no question in Papa’s eyes. He knew they were Jews.
“They’re visitors but they’re leaving now,” Beni said confidently.
“Where did they come from?” Papa asked.
“Leisa let them in,” Beni said. “Will you open the door for me, Papa?”
“No,” Papa said. “They aren’t going anywhere.”
He turned to the visitors and said, “Children, I will let you go if you will tell me who you are meeting.”
Lea looked frightened but said nothing.
I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“Papa! This is my fault.” He turned to me, with a look in his eye that I didn’t understand.
Beni was starting to catch on that something was wrong. “Why can’t they go, Papa?” he asked.
“Umm,” Papa began cracking his knuckles again. He didn’t want the children to go but he didn’t want to explain why either. He strode over to the telephone and dialed a number. “Schmit, I need you to send a car over right away.”
Surely he couldn’t mean it! Papa hung up the phone and glanced at us.
“Suzanne, can’t you take them somewhere?” he said sharply.
“Come and see your presents, children,” Mama said, leading us into the living room. I glanced back and saw Lea sit on the floor and put her head in her hands.
The Christmas tree was beautiful--lined with popcorn strings, apples and candy. Candles were lit on every few branches. Beni and Johann seemed to forget about our friends as they tore into the presents.
“Look at my soldiers!” Beni cried, holding up large box filled with little plastic men in uniforms. He is only five years old but I wish he would remember our friends.
I could hardly look at the new dress and books I received. What would happen to Lea and Jakob? After all the presents were opened, Beni said, “What about Jakob and Lea? Didn’t St. Nicholas bring them a present?”
“No, not this year,” Mama said quietly.
Johann’s eyes got big. “Were they naughty?”
“No, of course not,” I said.
“It’s because they’re Jews!” Beni said suddenly. “We must share our presents with them.” He grabbed one of his presents and raced to the hallway. We followed him.
Lea and Jakob sat dejectedly in the hallway. Papa stood nearby, trying to appear unconcerned. Beni ran up to them.
“Here, Jakob. I’m sorry St. Nicholas didn’t bring you any presents. I want you to have my best present. They’re pretend soldiers and you can play with them.”
He held out the box to his friend. Jakob just stared at the box for a minute. Then he put out his hand and took it, squeezing it tight against his chest.
“I’ll play with it, at my new home,” he said.
A startled noise escaped Papa, as we heard the sound of a car coming down the street. It stopped outside our house.
“The Gestapo are here,” Lea said. Her voice sounded as if she were being strangled.
I grabbed Papa’s arms. “Papa, please listen! They’re children like us. You can’t let the Gestapo take them.”
Papa stopped rubbing his hands. He braced his shoulders and glanced from me to the children.
“Take them out the back door,” he said, looking away. He opened the front door and shut it behind him.
“Come on,” I said, grabbing Lea’s bundle. She looked at me and said, “I can’t thank you enough--”
I kissed her and pushed her out the back door where Markus was still waiting.
“Is everything all right?” he asked.
“Everything is fine,” I said.
“Come on, then.” He grabbed the hands of our Christmas visitors and hurried them down a back road and out of sight.
Right before they disappeared, Beni called,
“Look after my soldiers!”
Perhaps you don’t believe in miracles. I do. For on that cold Christmas Eve, God used a box of toy soldiers to soften the heart of my Father.
Germany was a turbulent place to live in the 1930’s and 40’s. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime was gaining power, as was his army. Those who stood against him were sent to concentration camps, along with millions of Jews. At a young age, children joined Hitler's Youth and were taught all sorts of propaganda, which included reversing right and wrong. This story is dedicated to the people who stand up for what is right, even when it seems impossible to make a difference.
©2008 Annalisa Perry
Unto Us a Child is Born
As Told by Phebe A. Curtiss
It was in the little town of Bethlehem, with its white walls and narrow streets, that a wonderful thing happened many, many years ago. The whole aspect of the place had been completely transformed, and instead of the quiet which usually existed there, confusion reigned. The little town was crowded full of people. All day long men, women and children had been pouring into it until every available place was full. It had something to do with the payment of taxes, and the people had come from far and near in response to the call of those in authority.
Many of them were staying with relatives and friends, and every door had been opened to receive those who came. There were not many places where the public could go to stay in those days, and the ones that there were had been already filled.
Just as the shadows were closing down around the hill, an interesting little group found its way up the winding path through the orchards, touched as they were by the sunset coloring, and into the gate of the city. The man, seemingly about middle age, walked with slow and measured tread. He had a black beard, lightly sprinkled with gray, and he carried in his hand a staff, which served him in walking and also in persuading the donkey he was leading to move a little more rapidly.
It was plain to see that the errand he had come on was an important one, both from the care with which he was dressed and from the anxious look which now and then spread over his face.
Upon the donkey's back sat a woman, and your attention would have been directed to her at once if you could have been there. She was marvelously beautiful. She was very young--just at that interesting period between girlhood and womanhood, when the charm is so great.
Her eyes were large and blue and they were a prominent feature in the face that was absolutely perfect in contour and coloring.
She wore an outer robe of a dull woolen stuff which covered the blue garment worn underneath--the garment which indicated that she was a virgin. Over her head and around her neck she wore the customary white veil or "wimple."
As the donkey jogged along, stopping now and then to nibble at the bushes on either side, she sat calmly looking out upon the surroundings. Once in a while she would draw aside her veil and her beautiful eyes would lift themselves to heaven with a look of rapture and adoration in them, which was wonderful to see.
As they drew nearer to the town the look of anxiety upon the face of the man deepened, for he began to realize more and more the crowded condition of the place they were approaching. The hurry and bustle and confusion made themselves felt far beyond the bounds of the town itself.
They seemed to be strangers--at least they did not have relatives or friends to whom they could turn; and the man started at once to make his way to the inn or "kahn," as it was called in those days.
This inn was a quadrangular building made of rough stones. It was one story high, with a flat roof, and it had not a single window. All around it was a high wall, built of rocks; and the space between that wall and the building made a safe enclosure for the animals.
The thing about these inns that would surprise you or me today was the way in which the business connected with them was run. There was no charge made for staying there, but safe lodging was freely given. Each company which came brought its own bedding, its own food and everything they needed to use in cooking. A resting place and safe protection were all that were offered. The inn was in the charge of one caretaker. There were no other servants.
As the traveler, whose name was Joseph, drew near he found to his dismay that he could not even make his way through the crowd to the gate keeper, who was guarding the one entrance to the inn.
He decided to leave Mary, his wife, in the company of a family with whom he had been talking while he made an effort to gain entrance.
When at last he reached the man in charge, he found it was just as he had feared. The inn was full--there was no room for them there.
In vain he urged; he told of his own line of ancestors; of the noble line from which his wife descended. The answer was always the same: "There is no room."
At last he pleaded for Mary, his wife. He told the man in charge that she was not strong, that she had come a long, long way and was very tired; and urged that some place be found for her. He feared the results if she should be compelled to stay in the open all night.
So earnestly he pleaded his case that at last the man said, "I have no room and yet I cannot turn you away; come with me and I will find you a place in the stable."
Joseph then found Mary and they and the ones with whom she had been tarrying went together to the stable and there made themselves comfortable for the night.
This was not at all the cross to them that it would seem to you today. It was a very common thing indeed for people to stay in the stables when the inn was full. And then, too, you must remember that they were descended from a long line of shepherds. They naturally loved the animals and did not feel at all badly to sleep where they had been, or even in very close company with them.
We can imagine that it was with very thankful hearts they lay down to rest that night.
There was a company of men, asleep in the pasture lands at some little distance from Bethlehem, on the slope of the hill. They were shepherds. They had cared for their sheep and after that, all but one of them had lain down to sleep. It was their custom for all of the number to watch while the others slept. They were wrapped in their great, warm shepherd's cloaks, for the air was chilly at that season. All at once a strange thing happened. It began to grow very light, and the one who was watching could not understand. He spoke to the others and they sprang to their feet.
Brighter and brighter shone the light until it was like the day, and you can imagine that the shepherds were startled. They could not speak, so great was their astonishment; but as they drew closer together they heard a voice coming out of the light. The voice said, "Be not afraid. Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger."
And then there were with this angel, who spoke, many other angels; and they sang, praising God, saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
They sang it again and again until the heavens fairly rang with it.
For a while after the beautiful song had died away and the light had failed, the shepherds stood with bowed heads. Then each one gathered his cloak around him and took his staff in his hand and they started together to find the place and the Child about which they had heard.
Hastening into Bethlehem they came to the inn and found Joseph and Mary, and the babe, lying in the manger, just as the angel said they would. They worshipped the Child and returned to their duties, praising God and glorifying Him.
After that Joseph and Mary went away to another place and took the child Jesus with them, and many others came to worship Him. Among them were three Wise Men who had come from separate places and all from a great distance.
They followed the star which was set in the heavens to guide them and they too found the One they sought.
As they came into the place where He was, each one bowed in worship and they laid before Him the gifts they had brought--gold, frankincense and myrrh.
What a wonderful story it is, and how our hearts swell with love as we think about it! It is fitting that tonight we should dwell upon it, for we, too, have come to worship our King. It is His birthday and we have come together to bring Him our gifts. We have brought "white gifts" because they are the expression of our pure, unselfish love.
The Wise Men brought gold, and we have brought our gifts of substance--money and food and clothing and things that will help to make others comfortable and happy.
The Wise Men brought frankincense, and we bring gifts of service; for each one of us desires to do some one thing all during the year that will make for good and make us worthy followers of Him.
The Wise Men brought myrrh, and we bring devotion; for we bring the gift of self. If we have not already given ourselves to the Master, we want to do so now; and if we have done so, we want to reconsecrate our lives to Him.
Countdown to Christmas
By Amy Puetz
Create new memories that your family will cherish for years!
Do you long to make this holiday season the best ever? Do you wish to escape from the commercialism that hounds us from every corner? Do you wish to slow down this Christmas and enjoy the holiday as they did in the good old days?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I have a wonderful e-book that will brighten your Christmas. Countdown to Christmas has family friendly stories and activities for every day from December 1st to the 25th. Imagine your family gathering each day to read a Christmas story and then participating in a fun activity. This can become a reality when you purchase Countdown to Christmas. The book is broken up into daily sections. Each day has a story and an activity that should take about 30 to 45 minutes to go through.
The Best of Christmas in My Heart
By Compiled & edited by Joe Wheeler
Sample a festive feast of holiday storytelling! Like a tree adorned with the choicest ornaments, this heartwarming collection represents the very best from the perennially popular Christmas in My Heart anthologies. Enjoy 18 timeless tales carefully selected from throughout Wheeler's nostalgic series. Great for reading-aloud gatherings, it offers space for recording your own cherished memories. 224 pages, hardcover from Howard.
The Best of Christmas in My Heart, Volume 2: Timeless Stories to Warm Your Heart
By Joe Wheeler
Sure to warm the hearts and souls of readers of all ages, Joe Wheeler's second volume of heart warming, hand-picked Christmas stories are encapsulated in this elegant Christmas keepsake for the whole family. The Best of Christmas in My Heart, Volume 2 also includes personal journaling pages for you to record your own treasured memories for years to come. Binding: Paper Over Board.
The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger
By Lee Strobel
The agnostic neighbor, the unbelieving friend---you never know who may show up at church this Christmas. For just such seekers, Strobel uses his investigative abilities to dig for the truth in Scripture. Focusing on Luke 2, he has answers for those who ask: Was the incarnation a hoax---or the pivotal event of history? 112 pages, hardcover from Zondervan.
Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas
By Ace Collins
Behind the Christmas songs we love to sing lie fascinating stories that will enrich your holiday celebration. Taking you inside the nativity of over thirty favorite songs and carols, Ace Collins introduces you to people you've never met, stories you've never heard, and meanings you'd never have imagined.
More Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas
By Ace Collins
What precise moment in history do we still connect with the angelic message of "The Hallelujah Chorus"? Which country singer's early struggles are reflected in the song "Pretty Paper"? Why was "The Little Drummer Boy" set aside for so long after its writing? Collins reveals the hidden stories behind these and 29 other Christmas favorites! 192 pages, hardcover from Zondervan.
Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas
By Ace Collins
Christmas trees, presents, nativity scenes, wreaths, holly and ivy - these symbols infuse our holiday season with warmth and meaning. But do you know the origins of our favorite Yuletide traditions? Weaving faith with history, Collins's fascinating stories of the inspiration behind beloved Christmas customs will enrich your holiday celebrations for years to come. 195 pages, hardcover from Zondervan.
White Christmas, DVD
A stellar score by Irving Berlin and the entertaining team of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye made this joyous musical a smash hit in 1954---and it's just as charming today! Revisit this colorful holiday extravaganza and soon your whole family will be humming songs like "Blue Skies," "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep," and the title track. Approx. 120 minutes.
It's a Wonderful Life, DVD
Make this uplifting 1946 classic a holiday tradition in your home! Meet down-and-out businessman George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart); his tireless wife, Mary (Donna Reed); and moneygrubbing Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore). Despairing George believes his small-town life's been a failure---but will a hapless angel named Clarence and a Christmas Eve miracle convince him otherwise? Black and white. Two hours, 10 minutes.