— By WILLIAM J. KELLY
Christians begin to celebrate the Christmas season with Advent. The word Advent is translated from the old Latin word adventus, which means the “coming.” The nativity celebration begins four Sundays before Dec. 25, and is known as Advent, the coming of Jesus Christ. Christians prepare themselves to be worthy of the coming of Jesus Christ. Are you one who prepares for Christ’s birthday? What do you think?
Many people now either buy or make their own Advent wreaths. The wreath is made of a circle of pine and four candles. The first candle is purple and represents hope. The second is purple and represents the preparation. The third is pink and is the candle of joy, and the fourth is purple and represents love. This is a way for the family to pray together about the coming. What do you think?
The Virgin Mary
Mary’s mother was St. Anne of the Jewish House of David. Mary was an Israelite Jew of Nazareth in Galilee and her husband was Joseph. While they were betrothed she became pregnant by the Holy Ghost (Spirit). Joseph, when he learned of this, decided that he would follow the Jewish law about this, but do it privately. When an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him that he should marry Mary, whose womb was carrying the messiah by the Holy Ghost, and he would be the foster father of Jesus the son of God, he decided to do so. Mary is known by many names, some of which are St. Mary, the Virgin Mary and the Mother of God, since Jesus is God. St. Joseph, a Roman, was born in Bethlehem in 90 BC. He died in 18 AD. I know of no birth or death date for Mary. It is believed that she was 15 or 16 when she conceived. Most Jewish rites do not believe Jesus is the son of God. What do you believe?
Nativity is the name given for the day of Jesus’ birth, the full filling of the prophecy. In the Roman calendar of 336 AD, the first mention of Dec. 25 honoring Jesus is written. I believe this was about the time Christianity became fully organized. What do you think?
St. Nicholas is the forerunner of the imaginary man we call Santa Claus. He lived from 270 AD until 343 AD, and was known as the wonder worker. In Europe, St. Nicholas Day is a festival for children and is very popular, especially in Holland. St Nicholas’ Dutch name is “Sinter Klaas.” St. Nicholas learned of three sisters in a poor family who had no dowry, so he filled three stockings with gold and gave one to each girl. And the girls got married! Somehow that began the use of stockings hanging on the fireplace mantel full of gifts for children. That’s how I heard it! What do you think?
About 1809, the Dutch name for St. Nicholas was translated in English to Santa Claus. In 1822, an Episcopal minister, Clement Clarke Moore, wrote a poem for his children and named it “An account of a visit from St. Nicholas.” Remember “T’was the night before Christmas?” Later, in 1881, a Thomas Nast gave Santa his present red suit with white fur trim and also his long white beard, black boots, his workshop at the North Pole with elves and his wife, Mrs. Claus. In 1870, the United States federal government declared Dec. 25, a national holiday. Christmas is for everyone — a midwinter holiday for schools, businesses, banks and the post office — a Christian holiday. What do you think?
Rudolph and the reindeers
The norm was eight reindeer, and you all know their names don’t you? Then one foggy night the ninth reindeer came into existence. Guess who! Yes, in 1939, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer came into our lives, written by Johnny Marks. I was 19 years old at the time, and it took the country by storm; two and one half million copies were sold. In 1949, Gene Autry recorded the song and it sold two million records. As you know, Rudolph was an outcast because of his red nose. But then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa could not see to drive his sleigh. Rudolph with his red nose helped Santa deliver his gifts. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer will always be with us. What do you, think?
Think back when you were a small child and the thrill you got out of looking at all the toys in the shop windows. You had been taught all about Jesus, but after church all you could think of was opening all those presents under the tree and in your stocking, well, maybe in church too. Christmas paper was flying everywhere and mom’s plea to come eat breakfast was answered with, “I’m not hungry.” I remember Mom and Dad sitting by the open fireplace and reading us Christmas stories — yes, we had open fireplaces in 1924, on Christmas night.
My wife loved Christmas and giving gifts. She did not receive many as a kid, so she kind of went overboard in gifts for our six children. The living room was half filled with gifts every Christmas. We always laugh about our son Bill opening gifts. He always had on this pair of red pajamas, which he evidently loved. We have pictures of him opening gifts in those red pajamas for years, tattered and torn and too small, but he still wore them. The screams and smiles from the kids when they got a surprise gift made her very happy. Those childhood Christmas days are never forgotten. What do you think?
Do not be the old scrooge, be the reformed one. Teach your family to give as well as to receive. Families need help in these times, and you can provide a home Christmas dinner for someone in need for $15 or less. Delivering your gift as a family will develop good character in your children. They will remember and be like you some day. What do you think?
Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year to everyone.
William J. Kelly is a Weatherford resident and regular contributor to Viewpoints.