He placed his fingers over his lips so I would not cry out. "What are you doing?" I started to ask, but the words choked up in my throat as I saw that he had tears in his eyes.
He then answered me with the simple statement of "Teach the children." I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question and with one quick movement, brought a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. As I stood there in my night shirt bewildered, the visitor said again, "Teach the children." My perplexed expression still showed in the near darkness.
"Teach them the old meaning of Christmas--the meaning that Christmas now-days has forgotten." I started to say, "How can I?" when the visitor reached into the toy bag and pulled out a brilliant shiny star. "Teach the children the star was the heavenly sign of promise long ago. God promised a Savior for the world and a sign of the fulfillment of his promise. The countless shining stars at night--one for each man--now show the burning hope of all mankind."The visitor gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the bag a glittering red Christmas ornament. "Teach the children red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all people by the Savior. Christ gave his life and shed his blood that every man might have God's gift to all--eternal life. Red is deep, intense, vivid--it is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God."
As the visitor was twisting and pulling another object out of his bag, I heard the kitchen clock begin to strike twelve. I wanted to say something but he went right on. "Teach the children," he said, as the twisting and pulling suddenly dislodged a small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag. He placed it before the mantel and gently hung the red ornament. Here was the second color of Christmas. "The pure color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round," he said. "This depicts the everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All the needles point heavenward--symbolic of man's returning thoughts toward heaven. The great, green tree has been man's best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him, made beauty for him, formed his furniture.
The visitor's eyes were beginning to twinkle now as he stood there. Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound. As it grew louder, it seemed like the sound of long ago. "Teach the children, that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, so should it ring for man to return to the fold--it means guidance and return. It further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. Who is there among you if his son ask for bread would give him a stone?"
As the soft sharp sound of the bell faded into the night, the visitor drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny flame cast an eerie glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in the room slowly danced and wove upon the walls. "Teach the children," whispered the visitor, "that the candle shows man's thanks for the star of long ago; it's small light is the mirror of the star light. At first candles were placed on the Christmas tree--they were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. Safety now has removed the candles from the tree and the colored lights have taken over in that remembrance."The visitor now had turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from under the tree. He pointed to the large bow ribbon and said, "A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the spirit of the brotherhood of man. We should remember that the bow is tied as man should be tied--all of us together, with the bonds of good will toward each other. Good will forever is the message of the bow."
Now my mind began to wonder what else the visitor might have in his bag. Instead of reaching in his bag, he slung it over his shoulder and began to reach up on the Christmas tree. I though he was hungry as he reached for a candy cane purposely placed high on the tree. He unfastened it and reached out toward me with it. "Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep of the fold. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother's keepers."
The visitor then paused. He seemed to realize that he should be on his way. As he looked about the room a feeling of satisfaction shined on his face. He read wonderment in my eyes and I am sure he sensed my admiration for this night. He was his old self as he approached the front door. The twinkle in his eyes gave the visitor away. I knew he wasn't through yet. He reached into his bag and brought forth a large holly wreath. He placed it at the door and said, "Please teach the children the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love; it never ceases, stops, or ends. It is one continuous round of affection. The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It should remind us of many things of Christmas. Please teach the children."
I pondered and wondered and thrilled with delight as I sat and viewed all those symbols
that night. I dozed as I sat in the soft candle light, and my thoughts were of the visitor and
all he made right. To give and to help, to love and to serve, are the best things of life, all
men can deserve. Jesus the Christ Child as small as an elf, is the very best symbol of
Christmas itself. He's the sign of the gift of love and of life, the ending of evil, the ceasing of
strife. The message to me on this pre-Christmas night has opened a treasure of deepest
insight. The one thing on earth we all ought to do, is the teaching of children the right and