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December 14, 2022

I was looking at an old photo album my mother put together 50 years ago. In it was a black and white “Brownie” camera picture of my 4 year old brother and me at 5 wearing “Rudolph the reindeer” pyjamas beside a small artificial Christmas tree in our home in Kelvington, Saskatchewan. We’re both smiling, holding up small toys in our hands.

Our family’s poverty was unknown to us. Dad pastored a small church in town that kept us below the poverty line, but in our home there was no complaining. I never overheard my parents bemoaning their plight. Instead I heard a lot of thanksgiving and praise to God for his faithfulness.

That Christmas Dad read the story of Jesus’ birth and prayed with us before we opened our little gifts. It was agony waiting for him to finish. But as soon as he said “Amen” we tore into the brightly wrapped presents. We were happy.

We couldn’t afford a turkey but we had a chicken dinner, raisin pie, and a huge treat of Coca Cola in small green glass bottles. Then we spent the rest of the day playing with our toys.

There was no disappointment with that humble and simple day, perhaps because we had no sense of entitlement. We were joyful and loved. “Peace on earth” was a given.