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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas (04/25/05)

TITLE: When God Smiles
By Debbie OConnor


Every night before she goes to bed, my eight-year-old daughter thanks God for Christmas. Regardless of the length of her prayer list and the myriad other things she wants or is thankful for, Christine never forgets to mention Christmas right before she says, “In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Her enthusiasm has captured her brother’s imagination. Four-year-old Michael now glibly adds, “Thank you for Christmas,” to his bedtime prayers as well.

My children look for signs of Christmas in September, and with marketing being the monster it has become, they often find them. Christmas trees, plastic Santas that move and talk, lights, wreaths and wrapping paper are the signal to begin counting days. Their desire gains momentum like a runaway freight train when December arrives.

“How many more days, Mommy?” Michael asks.

“Here is a calendar, Michael. Every night we’ll cross off the day. When we get to December 24th, where the picture of baby Jesus is, that is Christmas Eve. We’ll go to Granny’s house, see all the cousins, and open presents. The next day is Christmas Day. On Christmas Day we’ll go to Nana and Paw Paw’s.”

“Will we have presents at Nana’s too?”

“Of course, baby.”

“Ooooh! Christine, we get to go to Granny’s and have presents and to Nana’s and have more presents.”

“I know, Michael! Christmas is so great!”

We make salt dough ornaments for the family. Molding, baking, painting and glittering little presents for everyone we love. Christine, Michael and the floor wear more paint and glitter than decorates the ornaments, but a good time is had by all.

We shop. Mommy and Daddy are exhausted, but Christine and Michael are enthralled with the busy stores and new things.

“Do you think Nana would like this?” Christine asks, innocently holding up a hideous glittery purple spandex sweater.

“Um, I don’t think that’s Nana’s size, baby,” I say, making the kindest possible truthful observation. What do you think of the sweaters over here?”

“Ooooh, let’s get her the orange one!” she exclaims. Her pink cheeks and bright eyes are too much for me to resist. Orange it is.

We read the Christmas story in the Bible and in the storybook, One Wintry Night. I continually remind Christine and Michael that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. I pray that I am doing enough to make Jesus the center of this mad, fantastic holiday.

Christine sings in the children’s choir at church. We bake cookies and attend Christmas parties. We see light displays and drink hot cocoa.

Finally, the day arrives. We head to Granny’s house for our first celebration with a car stuffed full of wrapped treasure. We pray, we eat and we open gifts. The children love everything and are always sorry when the last gift is opened. Finally, we relax and visit for a while before hauling our new toys home.

Morning comes and this year we are pleasantly surprised with a light snowfall. The children run out, catching snowflakes on their tongues. There is not enough snow to really play in but, since it is the only snow they’ve ever seen, they scrape it off the deck and pretend to have a snowball fight.

Inside we have stockings crammed with little presents. My children’s enthusiasm for presents knows no bounds -- even new underwear is exciting. We enjoy a holiday breakfast of cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk. By afternoon, we are hauling gifts to Nana’s house, and repeating the previous day’s performance.

Everything about Christmas delights my children. To me, my children’s joy is worth every effort and expense. I love to see them happy.

God is the best Father. He lovingly fashioned us individually, bestowing each of us with unique talent and purpose. He gave us a world filled with wonder and beauty to enjoy. He gave us people to love. He showed us how to live and when we failed, He came to earth Himself to make things right for us. This is the greatest gift of Christmas, one we can only receive with the innocent rapture of a child.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Luke 18:17 NIV

I believe God smiles when my children thank Him for Christmas every night. I know I do. I pray that I will bring a smile to God’s lips with my own thankful heart.

Thank you for Christmas, Lord!

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This article has been read 1227 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Cheri Hardaway 05/02/05
I know God is smiling over this wonderful piece of writing! Isn't it wonderful how kids teach us to have thankful hearts! Blessings, Cheri
Phyllis Inniss05/05/05
A lovely article that brought a smile to my face too. The joy we get at Christmas when we see the happiness of our children as they receive their gifts in honour of His birth.
Maxx .05/05/05
Very nice! What parent can't relate to this?!? Very good writing style and pace. Thanks!
Lynda Lee Schab 05/06/05
You made me long for Christmas in May just by your vivid descriptions of the season's activities. Thanks for sharing this heartwarming story. It sounds like you're doing a wonderful job teaching your children the true meaning of Christmas.
Blessings, Lynda
Suzanne R05/07/05
I love the little line about the orange sweater! Your message came through loud and clear about the joy that we too should have at Christmas. It sounds like you're an excellent parent. Keep writing and keep parenting as you are, and may God richly bless both endeavours.
Lois Jennison Tribble05/12/05
Hi Debbie,
This is delightful! I read it aloud to my eleven-year-old Rebekah, and she enjoyed it as much as I did. Her favorite part was "a hideous glittery purple spandex sweater," and then the orange. This piece has a classic feel to it with such warm, charming memories, yet beautifully maneuvering us into childlike worship and God's joy in it. Thank you for this wonderful gift -- As you said, God "bestow(s) each of us with unique talent and purpose". It is obvious in you -- KEEP WRITING!!! -- Lois
Chris Miller05/13/05
You make Christmas sound so warm and family friendly. I enjoyed your piece.
darlene hight06/02/05
One good turn deserves another. I don't know how I missed reading this the first time around but I'm glad that I read it now. How great is it that your daughter thanks God for Christmas? Someday, she might even realize what a precious prayer that really is. I know God already knows. It made me smile as well. Loved it!