[Symbol] – The Colour Red
[A Symbol related Poem]
Colours of Christmas
by Nancy Garber
The colours of Christmas,
So bright every year,
Always bring with them
Good holiday cheer:
The red of the berries,
The green of the trees,
The silvery bells
Ringing out on the breeze.
And over it all
There’s the white of the snow.
Just look at the lamplight’s
Bright golden glow.
The frost on the window
Sparkles in greys,
Giving the world
An ice-slippery glaze.
The sunrise is pink
On a new Christmas Day,
And lavender moonlight
Shines on the red sleigh.
[Song] A gift of Love
[Scripture] John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
[Challenge – Remember] – At Christmastime, we see the colour red everywhere, from bows and lights to the colour of Santa’s suit and of course Rudolph’s nose! The colour red is a symbol of royalty. In the scriptures, Jesus is called the prince of peace and so He is often shown in paintings wearing red clothing. The colour red is also a symbol of the heart and feelings of love. At Christmas, the colour red can remind us of the love that Jesus has for us and that we should love Him in return. Today have a moment where you think of the Plan of Salvation, think of the Saviour, who He is, why he sacrificed so much and remember how much he loves you!
[A Story relating to the challenge]
Remembered at Christmas
By Kristen McKendry
It was December in Canada—a wet, wind-whipped month that piled snow in sculpted drifts and encased tree branches in ice. I stood at the window, feeling like a hermit marooned in a cave—then again, with the way I was feeling, a padded cell might be a better metaphor. It had been a frazzling day. My three-year-old was irritable because we couldn’t go to the park, and my eighteen-month-old was fractious with a fever. I was waiting anxiously for my husband to come home from work, worried about the long drive he had to make on treacherous highways to reach us.
It was three days before Christmas—another source of stress. My husband and I had been living in Canada for three years, but I still felt a keen homesickness for my family back in Utah, especially with the holidays approaching. Though I enjoyed our new home and didn’t regret the move, there were times when the loneliness hit me particularly hard. I pictured my mother’s hot chocolate, my family gathered around the piano to sing carols, and the beautiful crocheted ornaments on Mom’s tree. I felt very isolated and left out. I knew almost no one in Canada. At times I felt I’d wandered so far away from home that even God had lost track of me.
It had been a difficult month leading up to the holidays. Since we had only one car and my husband had to take it to work, Christmas shopping wasn’t much fun. I had to haul both children with me on the bus if I wanted to go anywhere on a weekday. And with my youngest, Ryan, feeling ill and the Canadian weather being, well, Canadian, I hadn’t been able to get out of the house as much as I’d wanted.
I had had a particular present in mind for Ryan—one of those push toys that pops little balls around in a plastic bubble like popcorn as you push it. Ryan was an energetic, exuberant little boy, and I thought the cheerful popping noise and dancing balls would be great fun for him. I remembered having a toy like it when I was small. But I’d scoured every store I could think of and had had no luck locating one. There were lots of flashy, noisy toys—most requiring batteries or electricity—but no old-fashioned push toys. With Christmas looming near, I’d given up and come home with another present for him, but I was still disappointed. Really, it was a small thing, I felt myself grumbling, but couldn’t even a small thing go smoothly in my life? Did everything always have to be such a struggle?
By the time my husband came home that afternoon, Ryan’s condition had worsened. His fever would not come down. He had a history of having seizures when his fever spiked too fast, and I was anxious that it might happen again. We decided to go to the emergency department at the hospital as a precaution. Usually, whenever I rushed the kids to the doctor for some reason, it would turn out I had panicked for nothing; the kids were fine. So I was alarmed when the physician told us we’d been wise to bring him in and that he wanted to admit Ryan.
I hadn’t expected this. I thought he’d just write a prescription and send us home. A hospital admission wasn’t in my plans. I worked evenings at home as a phone operator for a pizza company, a job I hadn’t had for long, so I quickly called my supervisor to let him know I wouldn’t be able to work that evening. Thankfully, he was understanding, so my husband and I settled in to spend the evening with Ryan, getting him situated in his room in the pediatrics unit and trying to keep him and his brother entertained. Finally, I took my older son home and my husband stayed the night with Ryan.
The next day Ryan was diagnosed with a general staph infection, potentially serious but treatable. My husband and I spelled each other off throughout the day. That night I took the hospital shift, spending an uncomfortable night in a chair by Ryan’s railed bed.
Hospital rooms are foreign and unfriendly places, despite the caring treatment of nurses with teddy bears on their scrubs. The smells, sounds, and hard surfaces all convey discomfort and illness, the sense that things are not right. My son was too unwell to really care where he was and too young to grasp what was happening. But I had an adult’s knowledge of potential problems and a vivid imagination, and my anxiety and feelings of isolation only grew during those dark hours.
The next day Ryan began to respond to the antibiotics and started feeling well enough to become bored with lying in bed. I spent the day devising desperate little entertainments with plastic-cup pyramids and Kleenex puppets until I started to wonder if there was a bed available for me in the psychiatric unit, should I need it by the end of the day.
Christmas Eve came, and even though Ryan had improved somewhat, I was disappointed to learn that the doctor wanted to keep him at the hospital longer. We would not be home for Christmas. Once again I cancelled my shift, worried my boss would think I was making up excuses to get out of working on the one night no one wanted to work.
On what was supposed to be the most joyous of all nights, I was feeling sorry for myself. I couldn’t help it. I was far from home, far from family, worried for my son, and wanted my mother so badly. And now we couldn’t even have a proper Christmas dinner. All my plans were out the window. My husband and I sat in the hospital room, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken with the boys and trying to make the best of it.
Ryan was the only child left in the unit over Christmas. All the other kids were sent home. The halls were empty. The staff was cut to the bare minimum. Ryan seemed content and in good hands, and my husband and I were exhausted, so we decided we would both go home for the night, celebrate Christmas with our three-year-old, and return to the hospital in the morning.
Christmas Day, the Shriners, a charitable organization, sent a volunteer dressed as Santa Claus to the hospital to deliver presents to the children. But of course, Ryan was the only one there. I was surprised Santa had even bothered to stop by. The bright-costumed gentleman scared Ryan a little, so he didn’t linger, but he gave a present to Ryan before he left—a push toy that popped little balls in a plastic bubble as you pushed it.
I couldn’t believe it. I had searched everywhere for just that toy, and here it was, delivered by “Santa” himself. As I watched my son toddle happily up and down the hospital halls with his noisy popper, I felt my weariness and sadness fade away, and I was filled with a strong sense of comfort. I knew God’s hand was in my life. I might be far from home and in a worrisome situation, but I wasn’t alone or overlooked after all. I hadn’t been forgotten. I knew my wishes for a push toy to give to Ryan were not particularly important, especially in comparison to my wishes for his recovery. But Heavenly Father knew the secret and silly desires of my heart. What was important to me was important to Him. And He cared enough to acknowledge those desires of my heart with that simple gift.
With tears in my eyes, I turned to my husband, but my heart was too full to express what I was feeling. I could only manage, “See? Someone knows we’re here.”
Media link: [Why we need a Saviour]
10th Anniversary Advent Throw-Back :
[A Favourite from Previous Advents]
He’s Yours Today
By Anne frazier
The year had been a good one for our little family. Now, as the year was drawing quickly to a close, we were busy preparing for the approaching Christmas season.
One evening a few days before Christmas, I had gone shopping and was just unlocking our front door when I heard the phone ringing. I was tempted to just let it ring, but instead I rushed in to answer it. To my surprise, I learned that a long-awaited blessing was about to come into our lives—a baby born that morning was available for adoption. The newborn boy had had a stressful gestation period and was currently substance-addicted.
“He’s strong, and he’s a fighter. I think with a lot of care and love he will make it just fine,” the man arranging the adoption told me over the phone. “We’ll need to keep him at the hospital for a while, but now that he has a home to go to, we’ll get him there as quickly as we can. We’ll get him ready, and you get ready for him.”
Although we were thrilled, my husband and I decided not to tell anyone about the baby because of the uncertainty of his health. But we began to prepare for his arrival. Because we had adopted before, we knew the procedure and prepared to be certified as adoptive Parents.
The next few days flew by as we prepared for the holidays and a new baby. We mentioned to the children that we might get a special present for Christmas. Some guessed it was a new car, others hoped for a dog. No one guessed it would be a baby brother.
Along with the other preparations, we also spent time preparing for a missionary gathering. My husband was a counselor to the full-time mission president in the area, and the elders in the mission office were planning an evening of Christmas caroling, topped off with a short program and refreshments at our home.
On Christmas Eve morning, all was ready for our family’s Christmas, the visit from the missionaries, and our new son’s arrival. Sure enough, the phone rang about noon. “Merry Christmas!” our doctor friend exclaimed. “He’s yours today!”
Quickly we gathered together the little bundle of new baby clothes, called a family friend to stay with the children, then left for the hospital, telling the children we were going after the special gift. When we arrived, the nursery staff took us in to see our new son.
He was thin, and he had big, bright blue eyes and dark hair. The nurses shed a few tears as they taught me how to take care of their “Christmas boy.” Sensing their attachment to the tiny baby they had cared for, I gave them the bundle of clothing and said I’d wait outside while they dressed him and told him good-bye. In a few minutes, they came out with the baby, who was wrapped in an oversized red Christmas stocking. Though it would take many months to complete his adoption, from that very moment, we knew that baby was ours.
For the next hour my husband and I just drove around, marveling at the magic of the season and the joy of adding this child to our family. Late in the afternoon we arrived home, bearing our magical Christmas gift—a baby. The children were elated. Suddenly it seemed like Christmas, really Christmas—a time for celebrating a baby and the magic of his birth.
Quickly the time passed. Almost before we realized it, we could hear the missionaries approaching, their rich young voices ringing out their joy as they sang their Christmas message throughout the neighborhood. I had placed our new baby boy in a basket in the center of a table in the living room of our home. As the happy elders filed into the room, their voices became subdued as they realized the presence of this “little stranger.”
Within a few moments there was total silence in the room as they all looked upon the sleeping newborn child. Then softly, and together, they began to sing, “Silent night! Holy night!” After they finished they all stood in silence. With tears streaming down his face, one missionary said, “The magic of this moment is too beautiful for words.”
A warmth filled the room as that young missionary bore witness of the reality of the birth of the Christ child. In that moment, the Spirit used our little stranger’s birth and unexpected presence to fill every heart with a witness of the vital truth of the Saviour’s birth on the first Christmas.
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