Christ child: Hidden Riches In a Stable....
This is Mercy And Salvation

<bgsound src="Xmasmedley.mid" loop=infinite>

(The music you are listening to is a beautiful medley
of classic Christmas carols, sequenced by Gary Wachtel.
To turn off the music, right-click
on the arrow and click "stop".)

C is for the Christ Child who was sleeping in the hay
H is for the Heavenly Host who worshipped Him that day
R is for the Radiance on Mary's holy face
I is for the lowly Inn-- a poor and humble place
S is for the Star that shone to guide the shepherds there
T is for the Travelers who brought Him treasures rare
M is for the Manger, where He laid His little head
A is for the Angels who hovered 'round His bed
S is for the Savior ~ when we have Glory to God, we will have peace on earth and eternal life

The Christmas Story, as paraphrased in The Living Bible:

About that time Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the nation. (This census was taken when Qirinius was governor of Syria.) Everyone was required to return to his ancestral home for this registration. And because Joseph was a member of the royal line, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, King David's ancient home - journeying there from the Galilean village of Nazareth. He took with him Mary, his fiancee, who was obviously pregnant by this time.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

That night, some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding the flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them.

"Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!"

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God: "Glory to God in the highest heaven," they sang, "and peace of earth for all those pleasing him."

When this great army of angels had returned again to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on! Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

They ran to the village and found their way to Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds' story expressed astonishment, but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and often thought about them.

Then the shepherds went back again to their fields and flocks, praising God for the visit of the angels, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had told them.

Luke 2:1-20, TLB

Then again, in these busy times, here is a modern day paraphrase of the Christmas story:

And It Came To Pass....
By Freda Briggs

And it came to pass in those days, a decree went out from all the merchants in the town that the last month of the year would be a good time to pick up sagging sales and clear the shelves for inventory.

And each consumer went to his local shopping mall to buy gifts for the children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, bosses, teachers, friends at work....because the merchants decreed it must be.

And John Doe also went up from his place of business into the city, which was crowded with Christmas shoppers, with his wife, who was greatly exhausted from baking cookies, getting children to Christmas program rehearsals, committee meetings for the Sunday school party, and writing personal notes on dozens of Christmas cards that she sent to friends, relatives, and acquaintances far and near.

And while they were there, the time came for her to pick up the babysitter so that she could take a load of Brownie Scouts to the nursing home for caroling. And she did so grudgingly, for there was no room in her heart.

There were, in the same general vicinity, mothers sewing buttons on doll clothes and finishing counted cross-stitch projects by night.

And lo! An angel of the season appeared to one of them, and the mother was filled with resentment because she still had so much to do, and for crying out loud, it was Christmas Eve already.

And the angel said unto her, "Fear not! You don't need to dread Christmas. For behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy, which is the best news you've had since the PTA Chairman told you there were plenty of cookies and you didn't need to bake a batch after all.

"For this is the day we celebrate the birth of a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

"And this will be a sign unto you. You will find the babe not in a shopping mall or at an office party, but in your heart, wrapped in the clothes of love."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, "If you think Christmas is just for children, you have it all wrong."

The mother went with haste, found the family Bible and, from Luke, the second chapter, read what the angel was trying to say to her. And she returned joyfully to prepare for the celebration.

You Are Cordially Invited To A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

Guest of Honor: Jesus Christ

Date: Every day. Traditionally December 25, but He's always around, so the date is flexible.

Time: Whenever you're ready (please don't be too late though, or you'll miss out on all the fun).

Place: In your heart ... He'll meet you there (you'll hear Him knock).

Attire: Come as you are ... grubbies are okay. He'll be washing our clothes anyway. He said something about new white robes and crowns for everyone who stays till the last.

Tickets: Admission is free. He's already paid for everyone. (He says we would not have been able to afford it ...it's cost Him everything He had!)

Refreshments: New wine, bread and a farout drink He calls "living water", followed by a supper that promises to be out of this world!

Gift Suggestions: Your heart. He's one of those people who already has everything else. (He's very generous in return though ... just wait until you see what He has for you.)

Entertainment: Joy, Peace, Truth, Light, Life, Love, Real Happiness, Communion with God, Forgiveness, Miracles, Healing, Power, Eternity in Paradise, and much more! (All rated "G", so bring your family and friends)

R.S.V.P.: Very Important! He must know ahead so He can reserve a spot for you at the table. Also, he's keeping a list of His friends for future reference (he calls it the "Lamb's Book of Life").

Party Being Given By: His Kids (that's us).
Hope To See You There!

The Three Trees (author unknown) (from HomeAndHolidays.com)

Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood
and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up.
The first little tree looked up at the stars and said,
"I want to hold treasure.
I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones.
I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"

The second little tree looked out at the small stream
trickling by on its way to the ocean.
"I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings.
I'll be the strongest ship in the world!

The third little tree looked down into the valley below
where busy men and women worked in a busy town.
"I don't want to leave the mountain top at all.
I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me,
they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God.
I will be the tallest tree in the world."

Years passed.
The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall.
One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.
The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said,
"This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me."
With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell.
"Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest,
I shall hold wonderful treasure!" the first tree said.

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said,
"This tree is strong. It is perfect for me."
With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell.
"Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree.

The third tree felt her heart sink
when the last woodcutter looked her way.
She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven,
but the woodcutter never even looked up.
"Any kind of tree will do for me," he muttered.
With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter
brought her to a carpenter's shop.
But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feedbox for animals.
The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, with treasure.
She was coated with sawdust
and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard,
but no mighty sailing ship was made that day.
Instead the once strong tree was hammered and sawed
into a simple fishing boat.
She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean,
or even a river.
Instead she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter
cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumber yard.
"What happened?" the once tall tree wondered.
"All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountaintop
and point to God....."

Many, many days and nights passed.
The trees nearly forgot their dreams.
But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree
as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feedbox.
"I wish I could make a cradle for him," her husband whispered.
The mother squeezed his hand and smiled
as the starlight shone on the smooth, sturdy wood.
"This manger is beautiful," she said.
And suddenly the first tree knew she was holding
the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends
crowded into the old fishing boat.
The traveler fell asleep
as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake.
Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose.
The little tree shuddered.
She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many
passengers safely through with the wind and the rain.
The tired man awakened.
He stood up, stretched out his hands, and said, "Peace."
The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun.
And suddenly the second tree knew she was carrying
the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled
when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile.
She flinched as she was carried through an angry, jeering crowd.
She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her.
She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.
But on Sunday morning,
when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her,
the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything.
It had made the third tree strong.
And every time people thought of the third tree,
they would think of God.
That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

Covered Gift Bags

Materials: Paper bag, wrapping paper, ribbon, spray adhesive, craft glue, hole punch, and (for tag) gold foil paper, white and green paper, black calligraphy pen with medium point, twisted cord.

Carefully pull bag apart at seams and spread flat, Cut a piece of wrapping paper about 1" larger on all sides than unfolded bag. With spray adhesive, glue right side of unfolded bag to wrong side of wrapping paper; press firmly to secure. Trim wrapping paper even with edges of bag. Refold bag along previously folded lines. Use craft glue to glue bag back together. Allow to dry.

Place gift in bag. Fold top of bag 1-1/2" to back. Punch two holes 1" apart, 1/2" from center top of bag. Thread ribbon through holes and tie into a bow at front of bag. For tag, glue a 4" square of gold foil paper to a 4" square of white paper. Glue a 2-3/4" x 1-5/8" piece of green paper to gold square; trim gold square to 1/8" from green paper. Use calligraphy pen to write greeting of your choice on a 2-3/4" x 1-3/8" piece of white paper; glue to tag at an angle. Punch a hole in upper left corner of tag. Loop a length of cord through hole in tag and knot ends together. Hang tag on bow.

Candy Cane Cookies

1/2 cup soft butter, 1/2 cup shortening, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 egg, 1-1/2 tsp. almond extract, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2-1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. red food coloring, 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies, 1 cup sugar.

Combine ingredients through vanilla. Divide dough in half. Blend red food coloring into one half. Take 1 tsp. white dough, roll into 4" rope. Repeat with 1 tsp. red dough. Place ropes side by side, gently twist together. Place on cookie sheet, curve top to resemble cane. Repeat with remaining dough. Place in 375 degree oven, bake about 7 minutes or till set and very lightly browned. Combine crushed candy and sugar, sprinkle hot cookies with mixture. Remove from sheet. About 4 dozen cookies.

The True Meaning of Christmas (author unknown by me)

At Christmas time there was a man
who looked so out of place,
As people rushed about him
at a hurried sort of pace.
He stared at all the Christmas lights,
the tinsel everywhere,
The shopping center Santa Claus
With children gathered near.
The mall was packed with shoppers
Who were going to and fro,
Some with smiles, some with frowns,
And some too tired to go.
They rested on benches,
Or they hurried on their way,
To fight the crowds for purchases
To carry home that day.
The music from the stereo
Was playing loud and clear
Of Santa Claus and snowmen
And funny nosed reindeer.
He heard the people talk about
The good times on the way,
Of parties, fun and food galore
And gift exchanges that day.
"I'd like to know what's going on",
The man was heard to say.
"There seems to be some sort
Of celebration on the way.
And would you tell me who this is,
All dressed in red and white,
And why are children asking 'him'
About a special night?"
The answer came in disbelief,
"I can't believe my ears!
I can't believe you do not know
That Christmas time is here -
The time when Santa comes around
With gifts for girls and boys.
When they are asleep on Christmas Eve,
He leaves them books and toys.
The man you see in red and white
Is Santa Claus so shy.
The children love his joyful laugh
And twinkle in his eye.
His gift packed sleigh is pulled along
By very small reindeer,
As he flies quickly through the air,
While darting here and there.
The children learn of Santa Claus
While they are still quite small -
When Christmas comes 'he' is
The most 'important' one of all!"
The stranger hung His head in shame;
He closed a nail-pierced hand.
His body shook in disbelief;
He did not understand.
A shadow crossed His stricken face,
His voice was low but clear.
"After all these years, they still don't know..."
And JESUS shed a tear.


This variation of a very famous holiday poem is sure to touch all dog lovers:

The Night Before Dog-Mas
By Claudine Gandolfi

'Twas the night before Dog-Mas, when all through the pound
Not a puppy was yelping, or playing around.
Our leashes were hung by our kennels with care,
In hopes that St. Bernard would soon find us there;
Chihuahuas were curled up, all snug in their beds,
While visions of doggie-treats danced in their heads.
Max in his collar, on somebody's lap,
Had tucked in his tail for a midwinter's nap.
When outside the room there arouse such a clatter,
My ears perked right up to hear what was the matter.
Away to the window I jumped up with glee,
And barked at the shadows that were cast by a tree.
The glow from the moon changed night into day,
And started me thinking, "Woof, woof! Time to play!"
When, what with my puppy-dog eyes did I see,
But a splendid dog-sled, led by doggies like me,
With a regal furred driver commanding, not stern.
I yelped to the others, "That must be St. Bern!"
More rapid than greyhounds our saviors they came,
And we barked and we howled, and called them by name;
"There's Duchess! There's King! fat Chance, and bare Buffy!
On Fido! On Scooter! On, Rover and Scruffy!
Go by the red hydrant and run past those trees!
Nothing can stop you, not even some fleas!"
As puppies at play chase after a stick
And race to their masters so lively and quick,
So out in the field his canines all flew,
Catching the Frisbees that St. Bernard threw.
And then in an instant, I heard at the door
The scratching and clawing of each little paw.
As I pulled in my nose, and was turing around
Through the door St. Bernard came in with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his tail,
His wood cask adorned with icing of hail;
A bag of chew-toys he had brought with him,
And his mouth was turned up in what looked like a grin.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his ears flopped, how merry!
His coat shone like crystals, his nose like a cherry!
His big sloppy mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the fur on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a bone he held tight in his teeth,
And his collar encircled his neck like a wreath;
He had a large face and a furry, round belly
That shook when he barked, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was fluffy and plump, a big, cuddly old pooch
And I laughed when I saw him and gave him a smooch.
A wink of his eye and a wag of his tail;
We knew right away we'd have homes, without fail.
He howled not a howl, but went straight to his deed,
And took down our leashes that soon we would need.
He opened the door, and families stood there,
With children, all smiling and much love to share.
He leapt to his sled, to his team gave a call,
And away they all flew as if chasing a ball.
But I heard him exclaim as he chewed on a bone;
"Happy Dog-Mas to all and to all a Good Home!"

Now here is the story of a different type of visit from Santa.

Reason for the Season (author unknown by me)

Just last Monday night, I had a strange visitor. This is how it happened. I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the frontroom and, to my surprise, Santa Claus himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree. He placed his fingers over his lips so I wouldn't cry out.

"What are you doing here...", I started to ask. But the words choked up in my throat as I saw that he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone...gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know. As I stood there in my nightshirt, bewildered, Santa said, "Teach the children." My perplexed expression still showed in the near darkness.

"Teach them the old meaning of Christmas - the meaning that Christmas nowadays has forgotten. Teach the children, the star was a heavenly sign of promise long ages ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and a sign of the fulfillment of that promise was the great star of the East. The star now reminds us of God's love to mankind and of God fulfilling His promise. The countless shining stars at night - one for each man - now show the burning hope of all mankind." Santa gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the bag a glittering red Christmas ornament.

"Teach the children, red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all people by the Savior. Christ gave His life and shed His blood that every man might have God's gift to all - eternal life. Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God." As Santa was twisting and pulling another object out of his bag, I heard the kitchen clock begin to strike twelve. I wanted to say something, but he went right on.

"Teach the children," he said, as the twisting and pulling suddenly dislodged a small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantle and gently hung the red ornament on the big Christmas tree. The deep green of the fir tree was perfect background for the ornament. Here was the second color of Christmas.

"The pure color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round," he said. "This depicts the everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All the needles point heavenward - symbolic of man's returning thoughts toward heaven. The great green tree has been man's best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him, made beauty for him, formed his furniture." Santa's eyes were beginning to twinkle now as he stood there. Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound. As it grew louder, it seemed like the sound of long ago.

"Teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by sounds of the bell, so should it ring for men to return to the fold. It means guidance and return. It further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. As the soft sound of the bell faded into the night, Santa drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft light from its tiny flame cast an eerie glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in the shadow slowly danced and weaved upon the walls.

"Teach the children," whispered Santa, "that the candle shows man's thanks for the star of long ago. Its small light is the mirror of starlight. At first, candles were placed on the Christmas tree - they were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. Safety has now removed the candles from the tree, and the colored lights have taken over in the remembrance."

Santa turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from under the tree. He pointed to the large ribbon bow and said, "A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the spirit of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied as men should be tied - all of us together, with the bonds of goodwill toward each other. Goodwill forever is the message of the bow."

Now I wondered what else Santa had in his bag. Instead of reaching in his bag, he slung it over his shoulder and began to reach up on the Christmas tree. I thought he was hungry as he reached out for a candy cane, purposely placed high on the tree. He unfastened it and reached it out toward me.

"Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the starved sheep to the fold. The candy cane represents the helping hand we should show at Christmas time. The candy is the symbol that we are our brother's keeper."

Santa then paused. He seemed to realize he should be on his way. Soon would be his big day. As he looked about the room, a feeling of satisfaction showed in his face. I read wonderment in his eyes and I am sure he sensed my admiration on this night. He was his old self as he approached the front door. The twinkle in his eye gave Santa away; I knew he wasn't through yet. He reached into his bag and brought forth a large holly wreath. He placed it on the fireplace and said, "Please teach the children the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love. It never ceases, stops or ends. It is one continuous round of affection. The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It reminds us of all the aspects of Christmas. Please teach the children."

We've all heard of children writing letters to Santa, especially that famous letter written by Virginia by 1897. I'd like to end my Christmas page with the true story of a young lady who took a different approach.

Heavenly Mail
by Dwight Hall

Most of us have poked fun at the U.S. Postal Service regarding their supposed slowness and inefficiency, long lines, and sometimes lost mail. Like the story of a man who phoned in his application for work at the post office because he feared that if he mailed it, the application might not get there in time.

But there's another kind of story we ought to hear. Think of the story of the 13-year-old girl in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, who was determined to do what perhaps no one else had tried. She wrote a letter to Jesus - and got an answer in the mail!

Her name was Julianne Holland and her letter began:

"Dear friend,

"I am 13 years old. You must think I'm weird for writing a letter to Jesus when everyone knows it wouldn't get anywhere. But I wanted to give you a message. Every Christmas, all people think about is getting presents. But that's not the reason for Christmas at all. I think Christmas means getting all your friends together and having a good time because Jesus is born! And that is just the beginning of all the beautiful things he did for us! By being born, he let love into the world!"

The letter landed on the desk of Donald Orner, Director of Customer Service at the Harrisburg post office. His response was:

"We have no mail route to heaven, but I am sure Jesus is aware of what you wrote. He knows our thoughts and feelings, and every line of your beautiful letter flowed out across all the miles that no mailman could ever travel and touched his heart.

"You said your letter wouldn't get anywhere, but it touched my heart and be assured, Julianne, he knows. May you have a happy Christmas, and God bless you."

Somehow a reporter learned of the letter, and the Associated Press flashed the story around the world! What kind of message are you sending to God this Christmas? He is watching and listening to every longing of our heart. Does He find thoughts of greed and want, or does He find a longing for His closeness and comforting presence? This Christmas, invite Jesus, the Son of God, to be Lord of your life. He will gladly respond and answer your request once you do your part: confess and forsake all known sin and declare with all your strength that you fully intend to follow His guidance from this day forward.

His presence will fill you with great peace and joy. No wonder the angel told the shepherds, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people....A Savior has been born!" (Luke 2:10-11)

The Rail

The above tracks link to the "Holiday Train" section of a terrific web ring alternative called "The Rail", which seven sections of The Evergreen Refuge have joined effective Dec. '08. Click the left or right arrows to visit like=minded sites belonging to the "Holiday Train". If you have your own web site, click the tracks to learn more about "The Rail". It's a great way to generate traffic for your site and get acquainted with similar sites!

Click here for Christmas Page 2.

"Dream Orphans" - official font of The Evergreen Refuge - download here
Music MIDI from Jack's MIDI Music