December always sneaks up on me. We all love to get out the Christmas bins and it soon feels like Christmas. We have a few traditions in our home, one is this sweet little advent garland. Tiny little mittens and hats are filled with a small treat for each day. Surprisingly the kids are good about not eating more than that days treat.
This year we moved our church bench to our entry way. I must say I am really liking it there. Right now the pine garland is deterring the children from climbing on the stair rail. I think we will have to put it back when Christmas is over, but in the future when I don't have to worry about little ones nose diving over the rail we might just move it over there.
I am thankful for wonderful friends who gave us this poinsettia and helped make our home feel like the holidays. I typically find some project to do each holiday season. I got this grab bag of fabric from the Hive and made myself a festive table runner. Our home is feeling so festive.
Our home of course is filled with wonderful Hollyhocks and Honeybee creations. I look forward to pulling this Hang YouR StocKiNgs sign out of the Christmas bins. How cute is this old cooler box? My sweet brother know's my love of old thing and gave it to me the other day!
This is our mantel down stairs. I am loving this plastic dear I found at Emilie Jayne consignment.
One of our other traditions is an advent book some of our friends gave us years ago. It is filled with 25 stories that never fail to get us in the Christmas mood. I want to share with you Dec. 2nd story. It is one of my favorites. I posted this on my family blog last year so if you are a follower of that blog sorry for the repeat. I never get tired of this story, it always brings tears to my eyes and fills my heart with gratitude. So.. EnJoY and may your holiday be filled with love and happiness!
The Christmas I Remember Best
By Ivan T. Anderson
When the Allied forces made their big push into Germany, it was the duty of my military police battalion to take prisoners from the front lines into crudely constructed stockades. I shall never forget December 24, 1944 and the German prisoner of war who helped to make it more memorable for me.
It was a bitter cold night and I found myself on duty helping to guard more than twelve hundred German prisoners. To say we were a homesick group of men would be an understatement. The fact that is was Christmas Eve only added to our depression. One of our company, a man from the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, stopped blowing on his hands long enough to say, “What a cold, miserable Christmas! Just because we are stuck out here doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it. I’m going out and find a tree.”
“Forget it!” another M.P. shouted. “There are no trees around here; besides, we haven’t anything to decorate with anyway.”
Not to be discouraged, Smoky went into the darkness and later returned with a bedraggled specimen.
“You call that thing a tree?” our heckler continued. “In Texas we’d plow that under for a bush.”
With a positive attitude, Smoky began to decorate his tree with ornaments made from gum wrappers, candy wrappers, etc. Several of the men not stationed directly at the stockade began to help our zealous friend with his seemingly impossible task. As we worked, I suddenly heard a voice calling from the stockade, “American, American.” Turning toward the compound, I saw a German prisoner with one hand extended through the barbed wire. With his other hand, he was motioning toward me. I quickly threw a shell into the chamber of my rifle and approached him with caution.
What I saw in his hand astounded me. This prisoner had made a beautiful silver star entirely from gum foil that was a work of art. He placed the star in my hand and motioned to the top of our tree. Hoping he spoke some English, I said, “This star has such detail, are you a professional artist?” By his puzzled expression it was obvious he spoke no more English than I spoke German, so I took his contribution over and placed it atop our tree.
“Well, I’ll be!” the heckler began again. “I hate to admit this, but that bush is beginning to look like a real tree. Guess I should have kept my mouth shut, eh, Smoky?” (A loud cheer of agreement resounded from all of the men.)
As we completed our tree, we began singing Christmas carols, and I noticed several of the prisoners joined in on “Silent Night”. The last strains were fading into the night when I heard the same voice call, “American”.
This time the prisoner had both hands extended through the barbed wire. Again I approached with caution, rifle ready, and again I was amazed at what he held in his hands. This German sculptor had made intricate figures of Joseph, Mary, and the Christ Child. He pointed under the tree as he handed me his detailed work. I nodded my thanks and carefully placed the delicate figures where he had indicated.
As I placed the tiny figure of the Christ Child, made from a stick base and professionally covered with foil, the light from our fire actually seemed to give it a heavenly glow. I thought of how far we had strayed from the teachings of Jesus and felt tears sting my eyes.
Looking at the stockade, I saw that the prisoner was still by the barbed wire, so I hurried back, smiled, and warmly shook his hand. He returned my smile and the firelight caught the tears that were in his eyes.
Since the close of World War II, I have thought of this German prisoner of war numerous times. Our meeting was brief; we were two ships that passed in the night, and yet I feel this man would agree that our only hope for lasting world peace would be a return to the teachings of the tiny figure he so beautifully molded that cold December night. One thing is certain: If we love the Lord, we also have a genuine concern for all mankind - the two are synonymous.