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The Wonder of Christmas

Barbara Brabec’s
Personal Musings about Life

December 2023

The Wonder of Christmas

Nostalgic Christmas Remembrances and
My Christmas Carols Awakening

With a grateful heart, I count the many Christmases I have been blessed to celebrate. This most special holiday always brings a flood of memories about the magical Christmases Mother gave me and my two sisters. Should my memory someday fail to remember all the details, it’s comforting to know I’ve documented so much of my life and that of my family in my memoir, Marcella’s Secret Dreams and Stories: A Mother’s Legacy. (Maybe you should write your memories before it’s too late to remember the minute details.)

Daddy was a happy participant in all the holiday activities, but Mother did all the work and planning. She shopped for the tree my sisters and I loved to decorate each year. We were financially poor, so Mother made some of our presents and bought other inexpensive gifts so we’d have several packages to unwrap. Even the family dog and cat had packages to play with. I still have some of my childhood gifts, the most treasured of which is a vintage Hollywood Doll with a complete wardrobe Mother and I made together in the evenings as we listened to radio programs like Lux Radio Theater, The Whistler, and The Shadow.

Mother was a great cook, and holiday fare always included homemade bread, cake, and pies, especially pumpkin. Since her recipe for pumpkin pie used Milnot, I’m sure she found it on the can. To this day, I still use her recipe, and sister Mollie would too, if only she could find a can of Milnot in California. She says no other brand of evaporated milk gives the same remembered taste.

My Christmas Carols Awakening

Our parents taught me and my sisters to revere God and read and believe the Bible. But they did not have a relationship with Jesus until they neared the end of their lives. It’s one thing to believe in Jesus; another to walk with Him, and it takes some of us longer than others to make this transition. My Christian friends find it hard to believe I was 57 years old before life finally wore me down to the nubbins and I cried out to God for help.

After hearing a radio sermon by Greg Laurie, I fell to my knees in the wee hours of the morning and ardently prayed the sinner’s prayer. My life changed overnight, and my response was to immediately begin to journal my walk with Jesus and tell everyone I knew about the miracle I’d had. Shortly afterward, I wrote the first version of my Testimony for Christ. 

Throughout my life, I sang Christmas carols, but until I was born anew, I didn’t comprehend their meaning. For example, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” includes a plea to Christ: “Be born in us today.” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” includes the line, “born to give them second birth.” Until my miracle happened, I had never heard the Gospel message in the church hymns or carols. I still remember that Sunday in church when the congregation was singing Amazing Grace and I finally understood the meaning of these words:

“Amazing grace, how sweet it is,
that saved a wretch like me,

I once was lost, but now I’m found,
was blind but now I see.”

Overwhelmed by those words, I choked up and was unable to sing as tears of thankfulness flowed. Suddenly I knew that through God’s grace and mercy, I had been forgiven and had received the gift of salvation and the promise of heaven. Later, I was astonished to learn that nothing I could have done on my own would have been enough to gain me entry to heaven:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9; NIV).

Christmas is much more than a Christian holiday and a time to decorate our home with boughs of holly, to give gifts to our loved ones, and to “eat, drink, and be merry.” It’s about celebrating the birth and incarnation of Jesus, the time when the Son of God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14):

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17; NIV).

I pray you can see the wonder of God in your life and the world at large, and that you have family or friends who give you peace and joy. May you focus on the One who is the light of the world and the reason for the season.

As Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12; NIV).

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~Year 2023 ~

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October 11, 2023: Developing New Life Perspectives. Lessons learned from a garage sale, a friend’s perspective on downsizing, an unusual “purge and reorganize” experience, and more.

September 7, 2023: Three Short Stories: A Personal Update, Great Western Movie Stars and TV series of the 50s and 60s, and “A Tribute to the Dog.”

August 7, 2023: Are You a Procrastinator? If so, it doesn’t mean you’re lazy. It’s just “the Zeigarnik Effect” kicking in. Understand it and you can beat procrastination.

July 5, 2023: Do You Live Alone or Know Someone Who Does? If so, your life or theirs could depend on you having a plan to get immediate help in a medical emergency if the phone is out of reach. 

June 5, 2023: What is Your Legacy? How will you be remembered after you’re gone? What will you leave that has lasting value? How you live your life will determine your legacy.

May 2, 2023: Harnessing the Power of Your Subconscious Mind. Are you using all the information and ideas your subconscious mind has been storing all your life? You know more than you think you know.

April 3, 2023: A Season of Hope in Our Ever-Changing World. Some things—like Easter—don’t change. May this message remind you of all the Lord has done for you.

March 2, 2023: How Music and Exercise Benefit Your Brain. How to keep your brain healthy and engaged as you age, with resources to help you improve your memory and increase cognitive ability.

February 6, 2023: The Life-Changing Consequences of a Bad Fall. Lessons Barbara learned after her second bad fall, products that helped her recover, and her strategies for getting help.

January 19, 2023: 15 Interesting Things to Ponder instead of the News. Writing and Word Usage, Tips for Better Health, Stunning Statistics, Time out for Fun, and an Inspirational Story you may have missed.

Copyright © 2023 by Barbara Brabec. All Rights Reserved.

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