Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas to all

We woke this morning to a young 4 year old shouting at the top of her lungs, "It's Christmas, wake up, it's Christmas."

For the past month we talked to our daughter about the value of Christmas and it's true meaning. We did go present hunting and thought about what we could give to each important person in our lives. My daughter very much longed for a My Little Pony horse. She repeatedly mentioned it to her grandparents. Yet whenever she thought of Christmas, she would be so very happy to get to celebrate Jesus' birthday with our family.

We opened some of our gifts early because we were travelling to Arizona to visit family. She very excitedly opened gifts and helped everyone else open gifts including her baby sister. But she knew it was not yet Christmas.

Last night, we opened a few more gifts with my Mom, aka Grandma Shari. We attended a Christmas Eve service at my mom's church. But she knew it was not yet Christmas.

Some children happily imagine the presents being delivered by the red-robed jolly elf, Santa Claus. But not my daughter. She knows that Santa is not a person who is around today. She thinks of him as a nicely dressed, kind man who loved Jesus so much that he wanted to give to others as we should also. When asked what Christmas is, Rachel happily responds, "It's Jesus' birthday!" This is a good enough reason to be happy.

So why is she jumping for joy at the realization Christmas has arrived? We gathered family together, with a breakfast cake already. We placed the one candle in the middle to represent our one and only Lord and King. We light it. Her bright face explodes with sound as she loudly sings "Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Jesus, Happy birthday to you, and many more." We all blow the candle out and thank our Lord for the best gift ever given. Dad reads the story of Jesus original birthday. Our reason for excitement is here. What a great day!

By the way, did I mention, on the couch a few feet away were full stockings with more presents yet to come. But our daughter did not venture to open them until Jesus was first acknowledged. The excitement is present, it is full, it is joyful and it is NOT about Santa.
Thank you LORD GOD ALMIGHTY for Your incredible gift!

(by the way, I came across this info on the 12 days of Christmas. Not sure if it is solidly true, but it's interesting to think about.)

"The 12 Days of Christmas"
~ Origins and Religious Meaning ~
Caveat: I've discovered that there is a controversy disputing the authenticityof this interpretation, just to inform you.
Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829 were prohibited by law to practice their faith either in public or private. It was illegal to be Catholic until Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England in 1829.
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the basics of their faith. In short, it was a coded-message, a memory aid. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, young Catholics could sing the song without fear of imprisonment. The authorities would not know that it was a religious song.
"The 12 Days of Christmas" is in a sense an allegory. Each of the items in the song represents something significant to the teachings of the Catholic faith. The hidden meaning of each gift was designed to help Catholic children learn their faith. The better acquainted one is with the Bible, the more these interpretations have significance.
The song goes, "On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…"
The "true love" mentioned in the song doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but it refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. i.e. the Church.
1st Day:
The partridge in a pear tree is Christ Jesus upon the Cross. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge because she would feign injury to decoy a predator away from her nestlings. She was even willing to die for them. The tree is the symbol of the fall of the human race through the sin of Adam and Eve. It is also the symbol of its redemption by Jesus Christ on the tree of the Cross.
2nd Day:
The "two turtle doves" refers to the Old and New Testaments.
3rd Day:
The "three French hens" stand for faith, hope and love—the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).
4th Day:
The "four calling birds" refers to the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—which sing the song of salvation through Jesus Christ.
5th Day:
The "five golden rings" represents the first five books of the Bible, also called the Jewish Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
6th Day:
The "six geese a-laying" is the six days of creation.
7th Day:
The "seven swans a-swimming" refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
8th Day:
The "eight maids a milking " reminded children of the eight beatitudes listed in the Sermon on the Mount.
9th Day:
The "nine ladies dancing" were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
10th Day:
The "ten lords a-leaping" represents the Ten Commandments
11th Day:
The "eleven pipers piping" refers to the eleven faithful apostles.
12th Day:
The ‘twelve drummers drumming" were the twelve points of belief expressed in the Apostles’ Creed: belief in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, made man, crucified, died and arose on the third day, that he sits at the right hand of the father and will come again, the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.
So the next time you hear "the Twelve Days of Christmas" consider how this otherwise non-religious sounding song had its origins in keeping alive the teaching of the Catholic faith.
adapted from email messages,from "How To Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas,"by Hugh D. McKellar,U.S. Catholic, 12/1979,and from "‘12 Days of Christmas’ is no nonsense, but a serious riddle"by David CrowderEl Paso Times, 12/19/1993.Also, Origin of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"An Underground Catechismby Fr. Hal Stockert 12/17/95 http://www.cin.org/twelvday.html

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