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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Christmas Journey, Winter 1925

My parents, no longer living, were newlyweds when they made a 200 mile move from Thomas, Oklahoma, to Hutchinson, Kansas, with a young team of horses pulling a small canvas-covered wagon loaded with most of their belongings. It was December 22, 1925, the second day of winter, when my mom and dad, young and adventuresome (and in spite of their parents' grave misgivings), embarked on their seven-day journey, planning to sleep in their wagon each night.
     All went well until the day after Christmas, when the temperature dropped to 10 below zero on a Sunday morning as they headed north into a bitter prairie wind. My father closed the wagon to try to keep it warmer for his new bride, then got out and walked with the team to keep them moving against the driving wind and to try to stay warm. My mother’s feet and my Dad’s ears and fingers became frostbitten that day before they reached the farm house of some relatives who put them up for the night.
     To me, that experience of my parents, Ben and Mary, brings the reality of the first Christmas a little closer home, a story of a Joseph and Mary who endure a journey of also about a week’s length. Except they have no team and wagon, and may have even been traveling on foot.
     Christmas cards portray Mary as a mature, composed thirty-ish woman with a halo around her head and riding a donkey. In reality, she may have been a frightened young teenager, forced to go on a grueling journey in her last month of pregnancy. And then having to have her first child in, of all places, a barn.
     Such is the drama of Christmas, a story of poor and ordinary people with whom God journeys in extraordinary ways.

      I first wrote this as the script of one of my Centerpiece radio spots heard weekdays on WEMC-FM, WBTX-AM and WNLR-AM. This piece will also be aired as a part of a "Shaping Families" Christmas special that can be heard on WBTX (1470 AM) at 9:15 am Sunday, December 19.
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