• Diane Mack: The spirit of Christmas always

  • There are 21 days left until Christmas. This translates to three columns for me. I describe this as … a pleasure.

    This is my favorite time of year, when I can share my personal feelings on Christmas.

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  • There are 21 days left until Christmas. This translates to three columns for me. I describe this as … a pleasure.
    This is my favorite time of year, when I can share my personal feelings on Christmas.
    I have experienced more than 50 Christmases in my lifetime. Each Christmas brings a unique, individual emotion. I call this the spirit of Christmas.
    From my youth as a toddler to teenager, from young mother to old mother, and from young grandmother-hood to beyond, I have viewed the spirit of Christmas from different perspectives.
    This December, I would like to share with you what the spirit of Christmas means to my family.
    The “s” from spirit, represents service. Beginning with our first Christmas as a young family, we decided to give our children the opportunity to give.
    Each December, we would select a needy family to secretly serve.
    The first few years, when our children were very young, we would teach by example. As parents, we’d choose our “Christmas family” and our babies and toddlers would simply observe.
    Later, as our children grew, we’d ask them to find a family in need. Together, we’d shop for a gift for each family member.
    As the kids got older, we’d watch their enthusiasm grow.
    As early as October, I’d hear the kids get excited about a needy friend. They’d say, “There is a boy in my class, who has leukemia and his family is struggling” or “I know a family whose mom just passed away.”
    Together, we’d decide what to do for the selected family.
    The kids’ thoughts would range from buying a turkey, clothes, a new pair of shoes, a coat, or even, a bike.
    We’d always ask the kids if they could donate money or clothing. Most time they would.
    This was a blessing, not just to the chosen family, but it was a miracle within our own family. Service to others was blessing our lives.
    If I were to ask my children (some, now parents), what they remember most about Christmas, I know they would recall the secret visits to our “Christmas” families.
    Service is the first step to achieving the true spirit of Christmas.
    The second step to increasing the spirit of Christmas is “p” for peace.
    Peace is easily found in the music of the season. One much loved Christmas song is “Silent Night.”
    This “Silent Night” history is from the 1971 Friend Magazine.
    The church organ was broken! Christmas was only a few days away and everyone wondered what could take the place of the organ so there would be music for the Christmas Eve service.
    Page 2 of 2 - The little Austrian village of Oberndorf lay deep in snow. The winter stars shone brightly through the cold clear night as Father Joseph Mohr plowed through the forest to visit a woodchopper’s wife who had given birth to a child. It was late when he reached the home. In the light of the fire he saw the new mother bending over her tiny infant. They reminded the young priest of Mary and her Baby who was born in a stable in Bethlehem.
    Walking back to the village through the quiet white wintry beauty of the forest, words began to sing together in Father Mohr’s head: “Silent night, holy night …” Even after he arrived home, the words continued to flow . . . It was almost daybreak before he had put them all together and written them down.
    Early the next morning Father Mohr decided that the words should be put to music. His best friend, Franz Gruber wrote a melody to his words.
    At the church service in snowy Oberndorf that Christmas Eve, Franz played the guitar, and he and Father Mohr sang for the first time “Silent Night.”
    One hundred and sixty two years later, may this December bring “Sleep in Heavenly Peace.”
    Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at Jacksoncountyfamilyweek@juno.com or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.

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