BENEATH THE CHRISTMAS TREE!  By Lori A Alicea

The Christmas of 1989 it was just the three of us.

Our first December holiday without the trimmings we were accustomed to and the relocation from the peaceful acreage of our country life to a noisy city apartment in a subsidized housing community would be quite the adjustment; yet we were thankful for the blessings of family and for Jesus, a baby born to us at Christmas.CANDY JAKE 007

A newly single woman and unemployed a few months prior could have dashed my hopes for a season merry and bright, but when you celebrate the gifts beneath the Christmas tree of your life, you recognize it’s been a joyous Christmas every day since they were born.CANDY JAKE 011

Christmas is a season of giving and the packages exchanged come wrapped as different as the sentiments from which they came.

Raising small children, I wanted them to catch the spirit of giving by putting a new song in their hearts for others, where the lyrics reminds them that as Jesus is God’s gift to us at Christmas, might our bountiful hearts overflow beneath the Christmas tree of neighbors or strangers; even if your mother is unemployed.XMAS GRANDS brooke playing piano

With the curtains drawn from the sliding glass doors of our living room, one could see into their neighbor’s home (and vice versa) when their curtains are opened for the day as ours.

Just a few steps between the back doors of our apartments, it was just the three of them also during this Christmas of 1989; a mother, a son and her baby girl.

Sadly on my part, our families hadn’t been introduced to each other and their story, those unread pages of a mother raising children on her own.

But living in a subsidized housing community is a giveaway that money might be tight at Christmas, so I encouraged my little elf’s to find their song of giving to this neighborhood family, and what we might be able to secretly place beneath their tree come Christmas morning.

There’s always something to give at Christmas; whether baked, made, sung, written or bought; even for a few dollars at the local discount store.

Down the road from our humble apartment and within a short distance on foot, we three took a holiday journey together through the snow covered walkways to Christmas town, pretending Santa had picked us up for a ride on his sleigh.XMAS Jake and Candy 2

Christmas shopping that afternoon was a bigger gift to us as we left our hopes beneath the Christmas tree to renew the hopes beneath theirs; as my daughter picked out a doll for a little girl, and my son a truck for the boy his age next door, remembering the single mom with a pink sweater for a cold winter’s day.CANDY JAKE 011

It was almost midnight that Christmas of 1989 when the lights finally went out from across the yard a few steps away.

Wanting my young son to experience the joy of giving, he stayed awake during the midnight hours with me, filled to the rim of our hearts with excitement, much like the Christmas bag of our wrapped gifts we were about to secretly leave at their back door while the family lay fast asleep.

Waking up that first Christmas morning as a family of three brought a deeper meaning for giving when we terribly longed the memories of Christmas’ past the beginning of December.

We could only imagine a little girl’s smile captured as her eyes noticed a doll beneath the Christmas tree waiting to be held and loved by her; the same joyous smile for the neighborhood boy and his mom.cova xmas

Nobody knew but us when Christmas came next door as a song from my children’s heart echoing one winter night in December.

God multiplied much from the little we had, when we three were willing to give it away.

One Christmas memory from 1989 is a greeting card I love to mail to our loved ones from time to time; as its inscription and message is timeless for every December 25th of our life.vintage-christmas-cards-for-family-and-kids

A Christmas Child is Born By Lori A Alicea

With the Christmas celebration almost here, most have found themselves weary from the hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping, baking, serving and gift giving; myself included.  

With the traditions of the season keeping us overwhelmed in the details, I find myself guilty of glossing over the true reason while we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior.

With children and grandchildren seated beside the tree come Christmas morning, it’s every parents dream to bless them with gifts from the heart. While putting smiles and magic into a child’s holiday is wonderful, this year I long to pause and ask myself the question: “Have I set aside a meaningful gift for Jesus?”After all, he truly is the reason for the season.

Come December 25, Jesus will receive this song from my heart, honoring what he wrapped and gave to us all at Christmas; Himself.

It’s not too late to find that perfect gift for Christ on Christmas morning.

A Christmas Child is Born By Lori A Alicea

Two thousand years ago began,  the story of one night. Appears to shepherds keeping watch, an angel caused them fright.

The angel said, be not afraid. I bring you news of joy. The Savior has been born to you, the barn he sleeps this boy.  

In Bethlehem, a sign awaits, where swaddling clothes are worn.  When find a manger bed, rejoice, the Christmas child was born. Jesus Resting on a Manger

The shepherds left their flocks at night, in Bethlehem they went. They hurried off, amazed to see, the child that Heaven sent. A7B196C1-0F72-4506-AEB0-C777AAA46E56

That night a Christmas star appeared, from East three Wiseman see.   The star would lead them to their King,  the place this child would be. wisemen following star

Bowed down three Wiseman worshipped him, this child’s face behold. Presenting myrrh and frankincense, to him their gifts of gold. 3AD1E282-5D1E-4250-ADB2-10DE43309096

A barn received Immanuel, no royal robes were worn. Expecting grand, so many missed, a Christmas child was born. 6B4B4ADB-6C1C-4278-897E-4C5E944F393D

Dear Lord, the shepherds left it all, to see if it was true. The stories told them long ago, to get a glimpse of you.

Might I be willing, leave behind, the minute when you call. Might I be stirred for one small glimpse, of you to leave it all.

The Wiseman traveled far because, their heart was for their King.  Prepared to share their love for him, arms full of gifts they bring.  

Might I come bearing gifts myself, for you this Christmas day. Surrendered heart I give to you, my life, please have your way.

This Christmas child no room for him, no vacancy the inn. Two thousand years ago one night, his story does begin.

Remind me when I leave no room, or vacancies within. No guest room but the Master Suite, reserved for you my Inn.

And though from heaven you were sent, to live with us on earth. The baby born a manger lay, a barn received your birth.

Might I allow you to grow up, from manger where you lay. Who died for me then live again, on Resurrection Day.

Dear Lord you are my gift today, a treasure wrapped in Thee.  Immanuel, our God with us, my present ‘neath the tree.