And the one gift I still cherish throughout these 85 years of societal change has been the gift mother gave to me early in life, her love of that Christ child whose birthday the Christian community still honors in an ever growing secular world.
Mother’s love of the Christ child led to my profound love of that Christ child. It was her love of the Christ child that helped me build a solid foundation under my life anchored in the teachings and commandments of Jesus Christ and in learning to be obedient to those commandments and teachings.
This gift was quietly given to me as we (her children) would sit with her each Christmas Eve and listen as she would read from the family Bible that beautiful story of the birth of the Christ child in a stable in far off Bethlehem in ancient Israel as told in Luke 2.
Mother, a master story teller, brought to life this story of a seemingly insignificant birth of a child that has had such a profound impact on my life and on the lives of my ever growing posterity.
Mother’s Christmas gift has become a family tradition carried on by my children and grandchildren, and hopefully will continue for generations to come.
Even after these many years I can still hear Mother’s voice reverently telling us about there being no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph; the birth; laying him in a manager; the shepherds in the fields tending their flocks while heavenly choirs sang “Peace of earth, good will to men;” and about the wise men following a new star and bearing precious gifts for the new born Christ child.
I accepted these biblical stories as truth because Mother said they were true.
But as life progressed I had to learn for myself, as does every human being, whether her stories were truth or fairy tales.
And I did. I learned for myself via prayerful biblical study, fasting, prayer and personal revelation that these stories were indeed true and were given to the world for a wise purpose - to help every child born into this world learn how to build a sure foundation under their lives based on the reality of and the teachings of the Creator of this world, even Jesus Christ, He whose birthday we celebrate on Tuesday.
Yes the world has commercialized this holiday of holidays, even Christmas, but that does not detract from those gifts that He gave to the world, Himself, or of what Mother gave me as a child.
Her teachings about Christ would continue throughout the year. She encouraged me to learn about the life of this Babe as he grew into manhood and began his three-year mission, and of his love for his Father-in-Heaven and of his mission to atone for the sins of all mankind by reading my own Bible, and by asking Him in prayer.
During each year Mother would gently but firmly remind me to read and comprehend several scriptures, scriptures that have become sure foundations for my faith in Him, my Savior.
These foundational scriptures include John 5:39 that reads: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me;” John 3:15-17 that reads: “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved;” and John 8:31-32 that reads: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Mother also taught me by living her faith that family is one of the greatest gifts God has given to mankind.
In her later years, as in my later years, after all the glory of career and fame fades each of us are left with only our memories, memories that invariably revolve around family.
Merry Christmas to all!
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.