I learned the great joy of Christmas from my late wife, Willarena, an aficionado of Christmas. She loved giving gifts, sending cards and writing long letters thanking and praising friends. She kept extra gifts in one of the bedrooms of our house and in the trunk of our automobile. If someone visited on Christmas Day and wasn’t on her gift list, she would greet them, go immediately to get a gift and would return with Christmas greetings. It was like magic. I called her the gift magician, or Mrs. Santa Claus.
Once, before attending a Christmas concert at the Imperial Theatre, several homeless men greeted us as we exited the car. Willarena immediately told me to open the trunk and to my surprise it was full of gifts. She had gifts of gloves and socks that she gave to the men. They happily thanked her and formed a circle around us, singing Silent Night. It was a great present for both of us, and as we left them we clasped hands and started singing Silent Night, too.
We always had to have a freshly cut Christmas tree, and our children had to compile a list of gifts they received to send thank-you notes. Before the children went to sleep expecting Santa Claus, they had to read the Scriptures about the birth of Jesus. That particular tradition is still being done, and at 12:05 a.m. Christmas morning; my visiting grandchildren will be reading Scripture from Matthew.
Willarena had compiled a Christmas checklist she frequently sent to friends. I want to share a portion of it, because I think it is a great way to observe Christmas:
• donated money and/ or time to a Christmas charity;
• talked with or written a letter to a far-away relative or friend;
• sent Christmas cards;
• listened to Christmas music and sang carols;
• purchased and wrapped Christmas gifts;
• attended a Christmas concert or program;
• decorated the house, inside and out;
• read a Scripture about Christ’s birth;
• wished someone a Merry Christmas;
• driven around town to see the Christmas lights;
• visited a shut-in friend or a church member;
• attended a Candlelight communion service;
• had family prayer daily.
Every day was Christmas for Willarena because she enjoyed giving and was never concerned about receiving. Though I miss my wife dearly, I thank God for the 42 years we shared and the many things I learned from her.
Merry Christmas to all!
Tracy E. Williams Jr.