Christmas, Blessed Christmas

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What my father taught me about Christmas

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Christmas has always been the highlight of the year for my family. This is my personal story about Christmas and what my father shared with me about it.

I can barely remember my first six Christmases at home with my parents. I do remember the seventh. In December, 1941 I was in the first grade Christmas pageant at school and my mother made my costume and was there to see it. Right after the play she was taken to the hospital.

On my 7th Christmas morning, December 25, 1941 I found my first bicycle under the tree at my grandmother's home in Columbia, South Carolina, but everyone except me had gone to the hospital to visit my mother who had suffered from lingering illnesses for as long as I could remember. She was 33 years of age. I was very anxious to ride my new bike but I knew my mother was in very serious condition.

Finally they returned, but I could see my grandmother's face through the glass front door. She was crying as she turned the key . My grandmother had already lost her husband, two babies and a daughter 20 years old. Of her whole family only my mother and I remained.

I knew instantly that my dear mother had passed away. My father took me to South Carolina Baptist Hospital to say goodbye before they moved her to the funeral home. As he did he explained to me that though we were very sad and would miss my mother terribly, she had gone to heaven to be with Jesus, that she would no longer be sick and that there was great rejoicing and celebrating in heaven upon her arrival. He explained what a wondrous time it was for her to arrive in heaven on the birthday of the Savior. He said that my mother would be rejoicing and celebrating Jesus' birth above as we celebrated her going to heaven and Christ's birthday here on earth. I found that very hard to understand but did my best as I gave my mother a final kiss in the hospital room. I don't remember much more of that day except that after a sad Christmas dinner my father took me out to the sidewalk to ride my new bicycle. He ran along beside me as I tried to balance. It must have been very difficult for him but he was anxious to help me at last try out the bike. They said I was too young to go to the funeral. I do remember one grandmother specifically requested that the hymn "Till we meet again" be sung. She was very emphatic about that. My mother was buried at Elmwood Cemetery on December 28, 1941 on the coldest day I could remember.

After that, every year at Christmas we had a wondrous celebration. We had two things to celebrate. My father was always with me, his only son, almost every Christmas for 50 years. On those Christmases while I lived in South America he would fly down at great expense to be with us. He especially enjoyed passing out the gifts to the children and later to the grandchildren as well each Christmas and we had many wonderful Christmas celebrations together. Christmas was really always a joyous time for us as a family even as we remembered my mother in heaven celebrating too.

It was in early December of 1992 when I received the call to fly quickly to Atlanta to be with my father who was in serious condition. Though he had never smoked, he had lung cancer after earlier having had a heart attack and wearing a pacemaker for a year. He was 86. I took two of my sons with me. The doctor told me that I had better bring the rest of the family quickly as he would not last long. An older son drove them down. To the doctor's surprise my father held on. With the aid of an angelic nurse provided by the Lord over two weeks passed as he lay at home on a hospital bed beside the Christmas tree in the living room. The bedroom was too small for visitors and family. Although he did not speak, he was conscious and we were sure he could hear us and the friends who visited talk to him.

Christmas day arrived. The presents were under the tree as usual. We decided to open the gifts with the family gathered around and the only difference with previous years was that this year I distributed the gifts for the first time. Once that was done we gradually drifted away from his bedside but then we were called back as he breathed his last. He had waited for our family Christmas celebration before he left us. It was December 25, 1992; exactly 51 years after my mother had gone to glory on Christmas day.

The memories flooded back as again I stood at Elmwood Cemetery in Columbia on another freezing cold December 28th when my father was laid at my mother's side. Just as 51 years before, I was sure again that there was great celebration in Heaven as my parents were reunited to celebrate with the Lord his birthday.

Over two decades have passed but each Christmas our family has a triple reason to celebrate on December 25 and we do...

---James Pickett Wesberry, Jr., Cumbaya, Ecuador


James Pickett Wesberry and
Ruby Lee Perry Wesberry

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus
 1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Ruby Lee Perry Wesberry

James Pickett Wesberry

James Pickett Wesberry Jr. - James Pickett Wesberry

Ruby Lee Perry Wesberry - James Pickett Wesberry

James Pickett Wesberry

Click on this picture to go to full text of book on Google Books

Dr. James Pickett Wesberry was pastor of Morningside Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia for 31 years. After retirement he served as Executive Director of the Lord's Day Alliance of the United States until he passed away at age 86 on Christmas Day 1992.

Click here to go to memorial website for Dr. James P. Wesberry

My favorite Christmas Musical
(Language is German but Music is Heavenly)

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