"Christmas Messages"

Over the years, I have written quite a few messages for the holiday season. Following are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them...

Far removed from our commercial celebrations filled with trees, lights, and Santa Claus, the focus for the Amish at Christmas is on the religious meaning, family, and community. For all of us, Christmas is also a time to think about those who are less fortunate. One of my favorite stories concerns a "deed of kindness" in an Amish community in Wisconsin at Christmastime. It is reprinted from the book THE AMISH IN THEIR OWN WORDS...

It was around Christmas and our family had just retired for the night. We were awakened out of our sleep by the sound of seemingly heavenly music outside the house. We got up and. after coming to our senses, realized it was the community's young folks caroling for us. I was with the young folks at the time and began to question why they hadn't included me. I felt very sorry for myself.

After they left as quietly as they had come, one of us opened the door to peer out into the night, stumbling over a large tub and containers. What was it? Upon investigating, we discovered them filled with ground meat. We had suffered a fire loss and here they had assembled at one of the neighbors to work up a beef for us. We felt unworthy of such a gift, but filled with gratitude at the thoughtfulness.

Needless to say, I was very ashamed over the first feelings I had toward the young folks.

Sometimes it takes a jolt like this, a deed of genuine kindness, to waken us to our real sense of values and make us appreciate our blessings more.

Christmas continues to be a time to reflect on our blessings, think of others, and brighten the lives of those for whom Christmas may be a difficult time, such as the family in the above story. Just as small drops of water from a sprinkling can will help a plant to grow strong and healthy, so do our little acts of kindness spread the spirit of Christmas, as we discover that people who we may call "strangers" can easily become our friends.

* * * * *

The busy holiday season is upon us. With all the uncertainties in the world, most of us appreciate even more the importance of family. In the Amish world, family and community are at the center of almost everything. People worship in their neighbor’s homes, children attend the one-room school with the kids who live around them, friends in the church district help each other out in times of need, etc. The church, school, and family are integrated in a way one doesn’t often find beyond the Amish world.

Yet, just like the rest of us, the Amish sometimes worry that they are getting too busy, too occupied with their work or other concerns. As we all scurry about planning this and that, time for quiet and reflecting on what is truly of value in our lives can be limited.

In this regard, I came across a wonderful story, contributed by an Amish writer to the Amish monthly magazine "Family Life." The selection quoted below is taken from the book THE AMISH IN THEIR OWN WORDS. The words of wisdom come, quite appropriately for this time of year, from a child...

A story comes to mind of a young man who had a small son. The young father was always very busy. His small son often tagged along behind him and, as small children are, he was full of questions. The father often didn’t take time to give him satisfactory answers to his many questions. His impatient answer often was, "Don’t ask so many questions. Don’t you see that I am busy now?"

One Sunday afternoon, when the father was still out in the barn, hustling with his many chores, the mother of the small boy took her son in her lap. As was her custom, she opened a Bible storybook, showed him the pictures, and as best she could explained the stories and answered his many questions.

She came to a drawing of Jesus ascending into heaven. The boy listened with interest as she explained how the time will come someday when Jesus will come again, and how they will all want to go along to that beautiful place.

After a pause, the boy looked up into her face and in all innocence remarked, "Dad probably won’t go along, will he? He will probably be too busy."

Regardless of your religious persuasion, the lesson of this story is clear. We need to take time to listen to our children and young people, and be careful about what "unsaid" messages we are sending to them. I’ll conclude with this poem, also from the book..

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,

For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow;

So quiet down, cobwebs; dust go to sleep;

I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep!

 

The best gift of all is still free this year --- it’s the gift of love. From all of us at Amish Country News, our sincere wishes for a joyous holiday season!

Amish Country News Publisher's Messages by Brad Igou

 

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