A Modern Christmas Story

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A Ghanaian Christmas Story by Peter E. Adotey Addo

It was the night before Christmas in Ghana and I was very sad because my family life had been severely disrupted and I was sure that Christmas would never come. There was none of the usual joy and anticipation that I always felt during the Christmas season. I was eight years old, but in the past few months I had grown a great deal.

Before this year I thought Christmas in my Ghanaian village came with many things. Christmas had always been for me one of the joyous religious festivals. It was the time for beautiful Christmas music on the streets, on radio, on television and everywhere. Christmas had always been a religious celebration and the church started preparing way back in November. We really felt that we were preparing for the birth of the baby Jesus. Christmas was the time when relatives and friends visited each other so there were always people traveling and visiting with great joy from all the different ethnic groups. I always thought that was what Christmas was all about. Oh, how I wished I had some of the traditional food consumed at the Christmas Eve dinner and the Christmas Day dinner. I remembered the taste of rice, chicken, goat, lamb, and fruits of various kinds. The houses were always decorated with beautiful paper ornaments. The children and all the young people loved to make and decorate their homes and schools with colorful crepe paper.

All of us looked forward to the Christmas Eve Service at our church. After the service there would be a joyous possession through the streets. Everyone would be in a gala mood with local musicians in a Mardi Gras mood. Then on Christmas Day we all went back to church to read the scriptures and sing carols to remind us of the meaning of the blessed birth of the baby Jesus. We always thought that these were the things that meant Christmas. After the Christmas service young people received gifts of special chocolate, special cookies and special crackers. Young people were told that the gifts come from Father Christmas, and this always meant Christmas for us. They also received new clothes and perhaps new pairs of shoes. Meanwhile throughout the celebration everyone was greeted with the special greeting, "Afishapa," the Akan word meaning "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year." Oh how I wish that those memories were real tonight in order to bring us Christmas.

However, this Christmas Eve things were different and I knew Christmas would never come. Every one was sad and desperate because of what happened last April when the so-called Army of Liberation attacked our village and took all the young boys and girls away. Families were separated and some were murdered. We were forced to march and walk for many miles without food. We were often hungry and we were given very little food. The soldiers burned everything in our village and during our forced march we lost all sense of time and place.

Miraculously we were able to get away from the soldiers during one rainy night. After several weeks in the tropical forest we made our way back to our burned out village. Most of us were sick, exhausted, and depressed. Most of the members of our families were nowhere to be found. We had no idea what day or time it was.

This was the situation until my sick grandmother noticed the reddish and yellow flower we call "Fire on the Mountain" blooming in the middle of the marketplace where the tree had stood for generations and had bloomed for generations at Christmas time. For some reason it had survived the fire that had engulfed the marketplace. I remembered how the nectar from this beautiful flower had always attracted insects making them drowsy enough to fall to the ground to become food for crows and lizards. We were surprised that the fire that the soldiers had started to burn the marketplace and the village did not destroy the "Fire on the Mountain" tree. What a miracle it was. Grandmother told us that it was almost Christmas because the flower was blooming. As far as she could remember this only occurred at Christmas time. My spirits were lifted perhaps for a few minutes as I saw the flower. Soon I became sad again. How could Christmas come without my parents and my village?

How could this be Christmas time when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace because since April we have not known any peace, only war and suffering. How could we celebrate as grandmother instructed us to do before she died? Those were the last words she spoke before she died last night. As I continued to think about past joyous Christmases and the present suffering, we heard the horn of a car and not just one horn but several cars approaching our village. At first we thought they were cars full of men with machine guns so we hid in the forest. To our surprise they were not soldiers and they did not have guns. They were just ordinary travelers. It seemed the bridge over the river near our village had been destroyed last April as the soldiers left our village. Since it was almost dusk and there were rumors that there were land mines on the roads, they did not want to take any chances. Their detour had led them straight to our village.

When they saw us they were shocked and horrified at the suffering and the devastation all around us. Many of these travelers began to cry. They confirmed that tonight was really Christmas Eve. All of them were on their way to their villages to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. Now circumstances had brought them to our village at this time on this night before Christmas. They shared the little food they had with us. They even helped us to build a fire in the center of the marketplace to keep us warm. In the middle of all this my oldest sister became ill and could not stand up. A short time after we returned to our village my grandmother told me that my oldest sister was expecting a baby. My sister had been in a state of shock and speechless since we all escaped from the soldiers.

I was so afraid for my sister because we did not have any medical supplies and we were not near a hospital. Some of the travelers and the villagers removed their shirts and clothes to make a bed for my sister to lie near the fire we had made. On that fateful night my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. This called for a celebration, war or no war. Africans have to dance and we celebrated until the rooster crowed at 6 a.m. We sang Christmas songs. Every one sang in his or her own language. For the first time all the pain and agony of the past few months went away. When morning finally came my sister was asked, "What are you going to name the baby?" Would you believe for the first time since our village was burned and all the young girls and boys were taken away, she spoke. She said, "His name is 'Gye Nyame', which means 'Except God I fear none.'"

And so we celebrated Christmas that night. Christmas really did come to our village that night, but it did not come in the cars or with the travelers. It came in the birth of my nephew in the midst of our suffering. We saw hope in what this little child could do. This birth turned out to be the universal story of how bad things turned into universal hope, the hope we found in the Baby Jesus. A miracle occurred that night before Christmas and all of a sudden I knew we were not alone any more. Now I knew there was hope and I had learned that Christmas comes in spite of all circumstances. Christmas is always within us all. Christmas came even to our Ghanaian village that night.

By Peter E. Adotey Addo

Christmas is for Love - Classic Tale

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'Christmas is for love' is a short story that Will and Guy have found on the internet and we would like to share it with you, the author remains unknown.  It is not funny but is worth reading when considering what the Christmas message means to each of us as individuals.

Christmas is for love.  It is for joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for reuniting with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly covered packages.  But, mostly Christmas is for love.  I had not believed this until a small elfin like pupil with wide innocent eyes and soft rosy cheeks gave me a wondrous gift one Christmas.

Matthew was a 10 year old orphan who lived with his aunt, a bitter, middle aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her dead sister's son.  She never failed to remind young Matthew, if it hadn't been for her generosity, he would be a vagrant, homeless waif.  Still, with all the scolding and chilliness at home, he was a sweet and gentle child.Christmas Is For Love

I had not noticed Matthew particularly until he began staying after class each day [at the risk of arousing his aunt's anger so I learned later] to help me straighten up the room.  We did this quietly and comfortably, not speaking much, but enjoying the solitude of that hour of the day.  When we did talk, Matthew spoke mostly of his mother.  Though he was quite young when she died, he remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman who always spent time with him.

As Christmas drew near however, Matthew failed to stay after school each day.  I looked forward to his coming, and when the days passed and he continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class, I stopped him one afternoon and asked him why he no longer helped me in the room.  I told him how I had missed him, and his large brown eyes lit up eagerly as he replied, 'Did you really miss me?'

I explained how he had been my best helper, 'I was making you a surprise,' he whispered confidentially.  'It's for Christmas.' With that, he became embarrassed and dashed from the room.  He didn't stay after school any more after that.Christmas Is For Love

Finally came the last school day before Christmas.  Matthew crept slowly into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing something behind his back.  'I have your present,' he said timidly when I looked up.  'I hope you like it.'  He held out his hands, and there lying in his small palms was a tiny wooden box.

'It's beautiful, Matthew.  Is there something in it?' I asked opening the top to look inside.  'Oh you can't see what's in it,' he replied, 'and you can't touch it, or taste it or feel it, but mother always said it makes you feel good all the time, warm on cold nights and safe when you're all alone.'

I gazed into the empty box.  'What is it, Matthew' I asked gently, 'that will make me feel so good?'

'It's love,' he whispered softly, 'and mother always said it's best when you give it away.' He turned and quietly left the room.

So now I keep a small box crudely made of scraps of wood on the piano in my living room and only smile when inquiring friends raise quizzical eyebrows when I explain to them there is love in it.

Yes, Christmas is for gaiety, mirth, song, and for good and wondrous gifts.  But mostly, Christmas is for love.

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An Inspiring Parable At Christmas: It Is More Blessed To Give Than To Receive*

Corinne was a little girl who was all alone in the world. Her father and mother were both dead. Corinne was so poor that she no longer had a room to live in; neither did she have a bed to sleep in. All Corinne owned were the clothes that she was wearing. As regards food, she had nothing more to eat than a small piece of bread that someone had given her.

Corinne was forsaken by all the world but hoped that God would find a way to help her.

One day she left her home village. Corinne hadn't walked very far when she saw an old man sitting by the wayside. 'Oh, my dear child, give me something to eat. I'm so hungry,' he murmured to her. Corinne, without hesitation, gave him her piece of bread.

When she had gone a little further and the church spire of her village could no longer be seen, she came upon ayoung child. He only had a shirt on and begged, 'Could you give me something to cover my head? I'm so terribly cold.' Corinne, taking pity on the child took off her bonnet and gave it to him.

Further along the road Corinne observed another child by the woods. She only wore a vest and was trembling with cold. She pleaded, 'Dear girl, I'm so terribly cold without a skirt. Haven't you a little skirt for me?' Corinne, herself, only had her vest and skirt but without hesitating she took off her skirt and presented it to the freezing child and walked on.

Meanwhile it had become evening. It was dark in the woods. Then another child came towards her and asked, 'I'm so cold, haven't you a vest for me?'

Corinne considered this carefully; she thought it's dark here in the wood. Nobody will see me. It won't matter if I have no clothes and she took off her vest, too, and handed it to the child.

As Corinne stood there without any clothes, the stars started to fall down from the sky. They were all hard, shining pennies and although she had just given away her vest, she realized she had new one on. It was made out of the most delicate fabric and much nicer than her own. Corinne held out the vest with both hands and collected as many of the pennies as she could.

From then on she was rich and lived without any worries at all.

*Bible: Acts 20:35

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A Different Short Christmas Story

A Tale We Can All Learn From:

Ian came home from work late in the week before Christmas, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year old son waiting for him at the front door.

'Daddy, may I ask you a question?' said Jack.

'Yep sure, what it is?' replied Ian rather brusquely.

'Daddy, how much do you earn in an hour?'

'That's none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?' Ian responded angrily.

'I just need to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour? ' pleaded Jack.

'If you must know, Jack, I make £25 an hour,' answered his father.

'Oh,' the Jack replied, with his head down.

'Daddy, may I please borrow £10?' added Jack nervously.

Ian became was furious, 'If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy for Christmas or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I don't work hard every day for such childish frivolities.'

Jack quietly went to his room and shut the door.

Ian sat down and started to get even angrier about Jack's questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?

After about an hour or so, Ian had calmed down , and started to think. Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that £10.00 and he really didn't ask for money very often The man went to the door of his son's room and opened the door.

'Are you asleep, son?' Ian asked quietly.

'No daddy, I'm awake,' replied Jack.

'I've been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier,' said Ian. 'It's been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here's the £10.00 you asked for.'

Jack sat straight up, smiling. 'Oh, thank you daddy,' he cried. Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up notes.

Ian saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again.

The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father with his large brown eyes.

'Why do you want more money if you already have some?' Ian grumbled.

'Because I didn't have enough, but now I do,' the little boy replied. 'Daddy, I have £25 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early on Christmas Eve so I can to have dinner with you.'

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Ian was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness.

It's just a short reminder to all of you working so hard in life. We should not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some time with those who really matter to us, those close to our hearts.

Do remember to share that £25 worth of your time with someone you love.

More Short Christmas Stories

It really depends on what you mean by 'Short' Christmas story.  Perhaps ours are ultra-short Christmas tales, if so, try our collection of medium length tales.

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