First Presbyterian Church – Cedar Rapids

December 16

 To myself, a little girl in the 1950’s, it was the Wish Book that brought a twinkle to the eye.  A  Wish Book-you may ask-what is that?  It was another name for a Christmas catalog that had  pictures and descriptions of fantastic toys and other wonderful, highly desirable things.  Christmas took forever to come and the Wish Book simply intensified the anticipation of that day.

    I find myself reflecting that much time in my life has been spent wishing and anticipating; in reality finding the true joy to be in the revelation of the experience of the day.

     Some toys that were similar to those in the Wish Book appeared under the tree. There was a momentary delight, but the biggest thrill of the day came afterwards. It was always in the picture of every Christmas of my childhood. Being at my Grandma & Grandpa Carlson’s for the afternoon on Christmas day was a dream come true.  The 3 F’s were always present: family, fellowship, and food.  Relatives of all ages, (50 plus of us), were present at my grandparents very small, old farmhouse along Hwy 30 west of Cedar Rapids, which was over an hour from my home. We never knew what the weather would bring.  My father feared the worst for the roads. As a child I thought that Christmas just couldn’t happen without being at my grandparents home.  Anticipation grew and tight knots would form in my stomach, as winter storms would have my father say aloud that perhaps we should stay at home.  I never prayed for Christmas toys, (I did think of them often), but I did pray for the experience of Christmas at my grandparents home.

     The great divide of half Lutheran and half Catholic relatives was of no consequence; we were family that had received the word of God’s great gift to us-love to all mankind through the birth of Baby Jesus. There were so many of us, like at Bethlehem-no place with 5 star lodging or seating at a table, no indoor plumbing; but the place and time we had together had the greatest feel of love all around.  There were lots of hugs, smiles, and expressions of happiness. Christmas joy was at it’s best!

    I know that in my youth the greatest Wish Book was always present in the form of the Bible and that rings true in my adult years.  When dealing with life’s stresses and wishing for joy, I find relief in the comfort, guidance and strength found in it’s words. 1 Corinthians 13:13 and now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love. Wishing you lots of love this Advent Season and the days following.

Pamela Baseler

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