My Mother’s First Christmas away from Home

Ham, pumpkin pies, and sugar cookies. Weeks before the holiday arrived Mother was busy cooking and baking. Her culinary artistry was known to all and many times she had people calling in unsolicited orders for several dozen of her decorated cookies. While the oven was baking, her sewing machine was humming. One year she fashioned stuffed animals out of knee socks for all the nieces and nephews. She transformed our modest little house into a glittering castle with Christmas decorations in every room, many of them handmade. The nativity scene was in place along with the Silent Night Church music box. The Christmas carols were on the piano and the radio. Christmas morning dad loved to play with us children and watch my mother enjoy Christmas. She would make a big breakfast after which we would pack up the car and head for my grandparents’ home to spend the day with her sisters and their families.

Years passed. My grandmother had gone to heaven. My sister was married and had a family of her own. My brother was engaged to be married a few days after Christmas, and I was due to give birth to my first child a week before Christmas. There was only one problem: We lived more than three hundred miles apart. Mother knew how much it would mean to me for her to be with me when I brought my new baby home from the hospital—especially since I was having a C-section, and my husband was having elbow surgery the next day. She took care of all her Christmas preparations and celebrated with the rest of the family in advance.

My dad could not miss work to come along so he spent the holiday with my sister and her family, and two days before Christmas my mother drove the 350 miles from her home in West Virginia to Bloomington, Indiana, picked up my baby and me at the hospital, and drove us the one hundred miles south to Louisville and our very bare, undecorated apartment to which we had moved two weeks before. She hustled to get the tree decorated and the pies in the oven, then she went to the local hospital and secured my husband’s discharge. Together we made a delicious Christmas dinner and afterwards prepared special food boxes which my husband, arm in sling, took to some elderly ladies who had no family.

I cannot recall this gift of love without tears. My mother left everything and everyone, at a time of year she loved best, to come and serve me and my husband and help care for our newborn—her fourth grandchild. That’s how Jesus is. He could be totally immersed in the company of the saints that are worshipping Him in heaven and the angels that are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy,” yet He has time for you and me. He left His Father and the riches and beauty of His home in heaven to come to earth and live in human flesh because we needed Him. He died so that we could live. How blessed we are to have the fragrance of the Holy One alive in our spirit.

(c) C. Yvonne Karl, East of Bethlehem, Chapter 7: That’s How Jesus Is. Brentwood Press 2004.


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