I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog: Snapshots of Christmas past and present

Christmas is lights, trees, tinsel, presents, programs and parties. It is laughter and joy and greeting each other with a smile. There is a special spirit about Christmas that is more than a holiday. As I pointed out to someone who said they’d rather say, “Happy Holidays,” than “Merry Christmas,” “holiday” actually means “holy day.” Christmas is a holy day because it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus who did more to change the world for the better than anyone else in history.

I grew up in the home of an Evangelical Covenant pastor, which meant we moved every few years to a different pastorate. My memories of Christmas are etched in snapshots of different churches, states and parsonages. I was too young to remember the Christmases we had in Canada, though we have a picture of me and another little friend playing in deep snow. Clitherall, Minnesota was a small town that catered to those who liked to fish in the many lakes in the area. When the sturdy brick bank closed down, the church bought the building, right on main street, as the parsonage. It boasted a vault and a path out back–no indoor bathroom. It did have a wonderful fireplace that provided the perfect foil for Santa Claus’ gifts. (We kids always knew Jesus was the real story of Christmas, but we enjoyed the Santa Claus story as imaginary fun.)

Our next church in Siren, Wisconsin had a very interesting parsonage right by the church and along a main highway north and south. The house, for whatever reason, had secret places that wove back behind some of the bedroom closets. Mom used the one in her bedroom closet to hide gifts. One Christmas I peeked. I blew my cover when I came across Mom wrapping presents and blurted out to please wrap my ukulele in some cool silver paper. I felt so awful. Mom was gentle but firm and I never did that again.

Lance Creek, Wyoming brought Christmases with scraggly trees Dad cut himself. Once there were no good options, so he found a tree and pretty much constructed a half-decent Christmas tree from other branches. Soon after we moved to Kansas, I got sick and was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Doctors didn’t know much about it then and I became an experiment. I remember sitting and enjoying the tree with ornaments, some new, some old, some presented as gifts, some we kids made over the years. Christmas gave me hope that my life wouldn’t always be as exhausting and pain-filled as it was during those years.

By the time we moved to Iowa, our family was beginning to change. My sister Karin graduated from college, married and settled in Kansas. I was still in the wheelchair when I graduated from high school. We moved to Kearney so I could go to college. It was here I lost my mother, at Christmas time my last year of college, to a huge stroke. It was here, I had massive reconstructive surgery, braces, crutches and took a year to relearn to walk again. It was here friends supported me, especially one–Keith. We married and established our own Christmas traditions. No we didn’t have the lutefisk Mom prepared at Christmas. We did have a Christmas Eve supper, sing carols, read the Christmas story and pray before opening gifts.

I look back and though I didn’t realize it at the time, God was always there, always cared and carried me through the good and bad times. As I celebrate Christmas, I am thankful I worship, not a baby in the manger, but the God of all who came, lived, died and rose again to bring salvation, healing, hope–and peace. Merry Christmas!

Published Kearney Hub 12/18/2017
By Carolyn R Scheidies

Check out my autobiography The Day Secretariat Won the Triple Crown 

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