Day 10 of our 12 days of Christmas! Only 2 more days- boy this year has just flown by!! If you’re having a turkey for Christmas dinner you may want to put it in the fridge to thaw out today.
Treat/gift idea: Gingerbread men
on the Rhine
It was the night before Christmas in Germany. The night was
cool and crisp. It was the first Christmas since the close of a brutal war that
for four years had kept the world in turmoil. After being separated for many
years from those who had gone to serve in the military, family members all over
Europe were being reunited. It was a time of great rejoicing. But for me, a
soldier stranded on the Rhine far away from loved ones, it was not so.
Feeling dejected, I pulled my overcoat about my throat and
walked along a busy city street. My spirits lifted as I saw the hurry of
shoppers as they filed in and out of tiny shops lining the crooked avenues. I
understood German, and every now and then I paused to listen to conversations
as shoppers and friends wished one another a Merry Christmas.
I leaned up against a shop front. Two German brothers who
appeared to be around ages six and eight had their noses pressed tightly
against a frosty window. There were clusters of trinkets, toys and gingerbread
cakes. The boys’ restless feet tapped the frozen ground and their hands beat a
cadence on their hips to warm themselves.
“Well! After all,” said the older of the two to the younger,
“it’s all right to wish for Santa Claus to bring us some of those things, even
though Mama says that he cannot come to our house this year. We’re awfully
poor, you know.” I leaned closer so I would not miss a word. “I wish I had that
and that,” replied the younger boy. “I wish I had a gingerbread man, too.”
At this point, I engaged the little strangers in conversation
and learned that their father had just returned from serving in the German army
as a soldier at the German front. His pay had stopped, his job was gone, and
there was no money in the house for presents. Their mothers had made that clear
so her four little children (the two boys and their two little sisters) would
not be disappointed to awaken on Christmas morning and find that Santa Claus
had passed them by.
Soon, they had to hurry home. It was quite a long way, so I
offered to accompany them. When we arrived, they pointed out their apartment,
which was four flights up. I made a resolution: Santa Claus would come to their
home that year. With the location of the house and the number and ages of the
children fixed firmly in my mind, I retraced my steps to the little shop. The
shopkeeper carefully wrapped the trinkets and the gingerbread men into four
tiny bundles. After I paid him, he smiled at me as I opened the door and called
out good night.
Back at military headquarters, I confided my secret to a
friend, who agreed to accompany me to the family’s home. That night, two
soldiers greeted a former enemy in his home. The children’s mother wept tears
of joy when she opened a package. In the
adjoining room, the four children slumbered in their beds, dreaming of
gingerbread men and trinkets in shop windows, expecting to awaken to empty
stockings. Meanwhile three soldiers, former enemies, kindled a friendship.
At midnight, two Yankee soldiers sauntered homeward, their
hearts full of Christmas cheer. The bells in the great cathedral pealed forth,
“Peace on earth and good will to men.” In my heart echoed the words of the
Master: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my
brethren, ye have done it unto me.” I knew then it was truly greater to give
than to receive.