“Wait up!” a girl called out from behind me. It was a cold, rainy winter morning in Taiwan. As I turned around, a petite girl about my age ran up and said, “I thought all foreigners returned to their home countries at Christmas. You won’t find it the same here.”
“I know,” I replied, “but I am a volunteer worker here. I can’t afford to return home this Christmas. I do have friends here, though, so I will be okay. I also have Jesus, who is with me no matter where I am.”
“Let’s have a Christmas party on Christmas Eve,” Yoko Takahashi suggested to her husband one December morning. “I’m sure the children would enjoy it.” Koichi didn’t answer. He just said he would be home late and left for work.
December was usually the most stressful month at his company, and it was especially so this year with the sluggish economy. He wondered if he would be laid off someday, like so many others. Just two days earlier, he had attended a farewell party for one of his colleagues.
Last Christmas a doctor invited my family to perform a show for about a dozen of his elderly patients.
As it turned out, only five were well enough to attend. It was the smallest audience we had ever performed for, but the beautiful smiles on those wrinkled faces made it worth the time and effort. Afterwards, we visited a few more frail seniors in their homes. One woman with a walker greeted us outside and led us into her dark little house, where I sat with her on her bed and we sang Christmas carols together in the local dialect.
Three years ago, I began writing Christmas cards to Jesus—or rather, birthday cards.
I got the idea after reading an article about giving birthday gifts to Jesus, either directly or indirectly. Examples included the gift of praise for His love and unfailing care, the gift of faith, and gifts to others of service, kindness, forgiveness, and a listening ear.
It’s Christmas Eve. A month ago the sun disappeared below the horizon and will not be seen again until mid-January.
Norway at this time of year is not as dreary as you might think, though. The snow-covered landscape glistens from the light of the moon and stars, and the sun’s reflected rays dance across the night sky. The colors can take your breath away.
Last Christmas my children and I teamed up with another family to spread Christmas cheer to children with physical disabilities. Our program consisted of music, clowns, and lots of personal attention. Because the children’s disabilities varied greatly from audience to audience, we never quite knew what to expect.
One show was hosted by an organization that assists disabled children from low-income families. When we arrived, one adorable toddler caught my attention immediately.
An open letter by Lily Sridhar
I was thinking of you today and wanting to send some encouragement your way, when my thoughts went back to the very first Christmas. The picture that came to mind wasn’t the traditional depiction of the Nativity, though, with Mary looking serene and lovely in a fresh gown, adoring the infant Jesus wrapped in spotless white linen and lying in a manger that looks more like a nice piece of furniture than a feeding trough for farm animals, while a donkey, groomed for the occasion, stands beside tall, strong, unshakable Joseph. No, the picture I saw was probably more true to life.
In the Philippines, the Yuletide season means everything—family reunions, commemorating Christ’s birth, celebrating love. Combine that with good food, endless parties, and halls “decked with boughs of holly” from September all the way to February, and you’ve got a pretty merry Christmas.
But several years ago, Christmas didn’t bring the same good feelings for me. Maybe that was because I was a 20-year-old single girl who was craving a different kind of love that Christmas.