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Monday, December 13, 2010

Too much stuff

So, I'll go ahead and say it -- my kids are getting too much stuff for Christmas this year. We had planned on having what we considered a big Christmas anyway (buying what we consider a large family purchase), but then we got another large gift (for free) to add to the mix. Of course, I can't give specifics lest my children read this and it ruins the surprise ...

Anyway, I was thinking about this and one of my favorite Christmas stories came to mind (below). I used to enjoy and collect many Christmas stories, but I've really narrowed it down to a few I really love. This is one of my absolute favorites:

With God in a P.O.W. Camp

I thought of the Christmas tree at home, set up in the living room as I knew it would be. Had I been there I would have gone to parties with my friends, and at every party, in every house, there would be a Christmas tree.

I wanted a Christmas tree, but nothing was allowed into our cells, and frequent searches made sure of the barrenness. Outside, we were not even allowed to make a bending motion as though we might pick up something from the ground.

That Christmas tree came to mean to me just the opposite of all I was experiencing. The green of its envisioned freedom, and light, and family and America. And the season the tree represented spoke of God. I dreamed of a Christmas tree, and the melancholy knowledge that I should be at home settled over me like a pall. I prayed.

Then one afternoon after washing my dishes, I turned to take the one step back into my cell. I looked down, and on the threshold of my door was a tiny leaf blown there by the wind. I picked it up with my toes and carried it inside. The door slammed shut behind me. I carefully took the leaf from between my toes and looked at it for a long time. I held it to my nose. The perfume of freedom raced up my nostrils and infused my mind with its power. I fondled the leaf. It was real. I held it in my hand. God had not forgotten me. I set the leaf on the little ledge by the window. Its greenness stood out in stark contrast to the dull, gray bars. Tears rolled down my cheeks. God had given me a Christmas tree.

By Lt. Ralph Gaither
Viet Nam P.O.W. from 1965 to 1973

I have so much more than did this man and sometimes I don't feel nearly as grateful as he did. However, we emphasize gratitude often in our home and I feel blessed to have kids who are for the most part grateful. I hope they can follow the example of this POW and learn the importance of gratitude and seeing God no matter what our circumstances.


Carol said...

We all have much to be grateful for and stories like the one you shared brings that to the forefront of our minds once again.

Rebecca said...

This makes me so grateful for the amazing lives we all live here in America every day, let alone on a holiday like Christmas.

Bruce & Sylvia said...

I feel so ungrateful when I read things like that story. How blessed we are to live in a country that has so much, and people that are willing to risk all to keep it free.