Tuesday, December 25, 2007



The difference between then and now.

When I was a little girl about four years old we lived in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. We were very poor but love was in our home, especially for me being the only girl and 10 years after my brothers. At that time we listened to radio programs like the "64 Thousand Dollar Question", the "Shadow", "Fibber McGee and Molly" and "Digger O'Dell!" There were many advertisements just like now. I can remember Ralph Edwards saying "Right with Eversharp!" From then on all I wanted for my birthday was an Eversharp pencil! Lo and behold I received a green one and a tablet to go with it. I was overjoyed.

When Christmas came my brother had made me a little table out of apple boxes. He painted it red and I would have a "pig party" instead of a tea party. I don't know where that term came from. For my mother he made a jewel box out of lumber he found somewhere. It had two drawers in it. My mother treasured that jewel box all her life.

But the best time of all was Christmas. What I wanted more than anything was a red rubber ball! How many children today would be satisfied with that I ask you? Next to our place was the one room school house with grades 1 - 6. After 6 you had to move into town and stay with some folks to complete school. My brothers did that and that is why I hardly remember them living at home.

I would continually run over to the school house and my mother would get very upset with me. One day I was running and she was chasing me when she fell over a plow and cut her knee open. I will always remember the remorse, even at that age, I felt. I had caused my mother to be in pain. That was the last time I did that.

At Christmas in the one room school house they would have a party for all the students. Their parents would bring them and I remember my parents bringing me. When it was my turn to reach into the "Grab Bag" guess what I came out with! A red rubber ball! But that is not the best part... under the Christmas tree my Mom or Santa Claus had also given me a red rubber ball. I was in heaven! I will never forget that as I appreciated it so much. I didn't know "poor" or the problems my parents had making a living, I was too young. But the red rubber balls were like gold to me.


A. Powell Davies

This piece appeared in Parent's Magazine for December 1950. It could apply to the current day also.

Do you remember this line from a poem by Chesterton, "the things that cannot be and that are?" In these days we may well remember some of them. Nearly everything in the world seems to contradict it, but one of those things is human brotherhood. In spite of all our hatreds, our dissensions, our quarrels, our fierce antagonisms, we are all lonely under the stars, all strangers and sojourners on the earth, all filled with the same deep yearning. How does it happen then, that in our loneliness we turn against each other, saying "Enemy!" when we might say "Brother?"

It is to this that Christmas speaks and always has, and to all sorts and conditions of men and in every language. It begs us to relax the tightness of our hearts, to loosen the shackles of selfishness; it softens our differences, mellows the way we think about each other, lets us see how much alike we are, how bound together in our loneliness and need, and in the darkness--the darkest part of the year -- it lights a candle that no darkness can ever quite put out.

There shall be a world, it tells us, sometime, somewhere, when every heart shall be full, when there will be no cruelty in human faces, no evil cunning in men's eyes. A world of gladness from which all loneliness is gone, in which the joy of each is the joy of everyone and the sorrow of each the grief of all. There shall be this kind of world, it says, because there is this kind of world, just for a fleeting day, at Christmas.

After all, there was a time, not so very far away and long ago, when there was no Christmas, under that name or any other--a time when the world contained no love or brotherhood and nothing whatever made mankind different from the animal life about it. Then something happened, and the heart of man as well as his brain began to grow. Something of love came. We have traveled a little distance since then, not always in a straight line but we have kept on traveling. And we are traveling still. We expect at last to arrive -- to come to a full humanity, to kindness, gentleness, friendship, brotherhood. This has become our hope, our anticipation, our reasonable faith--of which Christmas reminds us.

There need be no room for bitterness, no cause for hate, we could dare to be humble, to walk softly, to open our lives to the sweet grace of charity. We could venture upon sympathy, dispel the harshness of our condemnations, forego the shelter of prejudice, the defensiveness of pride, we could look at life simply and directly; we could be compassionate without condescension, we could look at each other frankly in the eyes. We could dare to do this, and someday we shall, because there is that within us which tells us so, knowing that it holds the key to all the unsolved problems of the world.

These are "the things that cannot be and that are," and Christmas makes them plainer to us. We have not reached a good life yet, not a really good life, we men and women of the earth, but we cannot give up the hope of it. We have never loved our neighbor as ourself, but in our hearts we want to do so. That is what troubles us and makes us unquiet and restless, we shall never be really happy until the whole world is happy; and until we love one another, we shall be divided within ourselves.

That is the real meaning of Christmas. Not just twinkling lights and tinsel, but "the things that cannot be and that are." As the Bible prophesies it, a time is coming when "the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain"; a time when the cruel shall be kind and the strong gentle, and "a little child shall lead them."

Here, then, in a time of storm and tumult, an age of unprecedented struggle and distress is our faith and our hope. Though all goodness be denied and the world wastes with evil things, yet we can still believe. For Christmas tells us that someday, when we have at last deserved it, the God who has stretched our hearts with loneliness will fill them with His love.


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