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DECEMBER 2004
ISSUE HOMEPAGE

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Heaven Bound
Just Between Men
Take it to Heart
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'Tis the Season
The Joy of Family
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Whose Birthday is it Anyway?
By Sandra Fischer

Colored paper, boxes, and ribbon covered the living room landscape, evidence that our family had once again lived up to the cultural expectations of a Christmas exchange. Since vacation started the next morning, we needed to clear the area of debris, dismantle the tree and pack away the decorations for another year.

Our three daughters were busy, each with assigned tasks to hurry the project along. Jamie, our oldest, was putting away the gilded paper-maché figures of Mary and Joseph when she noticed the baby figurine was not in Mary’s arms.

"I can’t find Baby Jesus." Jamie said.

The search began – everyone shook the wadded papers to find the swaddled Christ child. Our youngest, Jaren, soon, found the lost babe among the crumpled tissue.

Sarah, our middle child, commented, "Now he is safe and can be put away until next year."

Later, I stood at the window and looked out on new-fallen snow and the Christmas lights in the sky that God had put there. I was overcome by shame and remorse. How is it that we celebrate Christmas and miss it, all at the same time?

We are busy with the trappings of Christmas – the food, the decorations, the glitter, our presents to each other. In the process, we lose the main thing, the best part, and the greatest gift.

And, then, even if we give cursory notice to the Christ child, we pack Him away into the "Christmas Closet" of our lives, only to bring Him out as a "decoration" for our party.

Through my tears, I choked a prayer – "Lord, forgive us for making ourselves the center of attention and forgetting whose birthday it is. Thank you for showing us that without the gift of your Son we would be lost. May He have the prominence in my heart He deserves for each day of the year and especially at Christmas."

Not only did we find baby Jesus that day, but I found a new attitude toward celebrating Christmas. I will always treasure the lesson of the lost Christ child as God’s gentle reminder of whose birthday it is, and why He is the most precious present of all.
Sandra Fischer taught high school English in Indiana before owning a bookstore for several years. Most of her writing is devoted to stories from her experiences growing up in the Midwest. She is published in Guideposts and several trade journals. Having retired in 2001, Sandra lives in South Carolina with her husband, Craig, where she continues to write. You can contact Sandra through the Your Letters page of the magazine.
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