A story of Christmas present and past

Each Christmas Season, my daughters and I place a small figurine on our coffee table. It depicts a scene of the Nativity, a baby sleeps peacefully in a manger while three little angels watch over him. It is white ceramic, and trimmed with gold paint. It has a small key in its base. When wound, the figurine slowly turns in a circle as it plays the song, “The First Noel.”

It belonged to my grandmother. I remember seeing it under her Christmas tree when I was a young boy. I would stand by her decorated tree and listen as the soft music played. Somehow over the passing 40 years, this figurine found its way back into my home. It has little more than sentimental value, but we unpack it each December, and position it in its place in our living room.

My youngest daughter, Bridget, admires the figurine now. She’s seven years old. I watch her over the top of my newspaper as she fusses with it. I know what is on her mind. “Let’s wind it together,” I say. She turns to me and smiles, and carefully lifts the figurine into her hands. She walks across the room, her arms outstretched in front of her. She gently hands it to me and then climbs up onto my lap. I hold the figurine as she winds the key. We place it on the end table near my chair. The figurine begins to turn, and together we listen as the simple melody plays.

With each rotation , I am reminded of past Christmases shared with my family at my grandmother’s home. I can picture my grandmother baking biscuits in the kitchen, while my grandfather delights in the cardigan sweater he received as a Christmas gift. I can almost hear the laughter of uncles and aunts enjoying each others’ company. And I remember the red, amber, and blue colored lights that burned hot and bright on my grandparents’ Christmas tree. Many in my family from those far away times have left this world. But they are not forgotten. In a way they are still here. In our thoughts and memories, and in our hearts.

Story of Christmas

The figurine completes its revolution, slowly coming to rest. May daughter’s voice calls quietly to me “Daddy,” she says, “tell me the story of Christmas, please?” The hour is late, but I respond, “All right Bridge, but then its bedtime; do you promise?” She moves closer to me, happy with anticipation. “I promise, Daddy, I promise”, she says. And, then I begin.

“There was a child. One tiny child, born on a cold winter’s night; born in a stable without privilege or title, with only swaddling clothes to keep him warm. This child would grow to become the greatest of all kings. But this night, no servant addressed his needs. No authority acknowledged his birth. A simple wooden manger filled with hay made his bed, while ox and lamb watched over him. A young and tired mother held him close within her arms, and gazed upon the bright star that shone in the evening sky. Her name was Mary. And meek and lowly shepherds drew near from hills and fields to witness the wonder of the birth of God’s son, and to give thanks that God had not forsaken them.

“Someday, Bridget, our family will be together again, in a different time; in a different place; far from the suffering of this world. And we’ll see Papa and Uncle David, and all those that we have loved that have left this earth before us. Under heaven’s stars we’ll gather, and share our laughter and happiness. And angels will sing with gladness. For on the first Christmas long ago, a child was born to give men hope, and to fill the darkness of this world with his eternal light, so that death would defeat men no more.”

My daughter looks up at me as I finish. The colored lights from our Christmas tree reflect in her blue eyes. “Daddy, I like that story”, she says. I answer, “So do I Bridget, so do I.” “Daddy,” she says again, “I miss Papa.” I place my arm around her. “I know that you do Bridge, we all do. But we’ll see him again, someday.” For a few minutes more, my daughter and I sit quietly together, beneath the lights of our Christmas tree, remembering, just remembering what Christmas is truly about. Her soft voice breaks the silence once more “Daddy,” she says. “I’m still here, Bridge,” I reply. “Merry Christmas, Daddy.” I smile at her and answer, “Merry Christmas, Bridget, Merry Christmas

X David Bobvynyik is a Youngstown lawyer who enjoys sharing holiday memories.

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