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Remember the Alysons

Dear LifeSharers,                                                                         December 2015

            Well, I promised in the last letter that this month I would offer you a Christmas story.  Now be forewarned, it’s a different kind of Yuletide tale but the moral is pretty clear.  I hope you find it of value. After the story, I finish with a few announcements and prayer requests.  Merry Christmas, guys.


My Mid-Winter Break: An Essay by Alyson Drenton

(5th Grade -- Mahatma Ghandi Elementary School) 

Because the assignment is to write about what happened on our vacation, I will try to do it but it won’t be easy.  I guess my mid-winter break was pretty much normal.  Like other years, my house was full of family and other people.  It was busy and loud.  And there were other problems.  But I did get some new computer games, some jewelry, and over $400 in gift cards for Christmas I mean, for the holiday on December 25th.  I made out okay and I guess that’s what Christmas, I mean, the mid-winter holiday is all about. 

Some of my cousins were there for a few days.  We played a lot of video games and sometimes we went to the mall to hang out.  My cousin, Loretta is closest to me in age but she couldn’t always do stuff because she had to help Aunt Portia a lot.  That’s her mom.  Aunt Portia broke her foot on Black Friday when she grabbed a big screen TV from a lady and it fell on her foot – my aunt’s foot, not the other lady’s.  The TV broke and the store charged my aunt for it so she said she was going to sue them for not having the police provide order.  But the store people say they have it all on video and so my aunt just put the cost on her credit card and told my mom that Uncle Bob would never know. And she bought another TV anyway.  That makes 4 in their house. 

There were other problems too.  My mother caught a bad cold.  She says it was from her brothers and sisters keeping the door to the deck open when they went out to smoke cigarettes.  She’s mad because the deck now has cigarette burns and the house still smells like cigarettes.  I can’t smell that though because all I can smell is where the dog threw up when my cousins fed him a bunch of chocolate-covered cherries.  Maybe Duke being sick was also why he bit the neighbor Mr. Hansen when he brought Christmas carolers to our door.  Sorry.  I mean people singing holiday songs.  That wasn’t all either.  Duke also tried to bite a man that came from a finance company who took Uncle Jack’s new truck.  But the man was too quick.  Uncle Jack got really steamed because he said it wasn’t his fault that he stopped making payments.  It was actually the bank’s fault, and the car dealer’s, and the 1% who control all the country’s wealth.  Uncle Jack is a progressive. 

We watched a lot of movies on TV over the mid-winter break.  Some of the movies were very embarrassing – the things they showed and the words they used and the bloody stuff too.   Sometimes I almost walked out of the room but my Aunt Jill said she would tell me when I had to close my eyes.  I didn’t always do that but I think I should have.  A lot of times the jokes were nasty and mean.  Also, I don’t understand why people in the movies get undressed all the time.

We had the big snow the night before Christmas, I mean, before December 25th.  My father has two snowblowers but neither one start easily so he brought them into the house to get warm.  They made the house smell too.  The next morning only one of them started anyway.  And it quit for good when my Uncle Lou accidently ran it into the big inflatable Homer Simpson that’s next to the driveway.  Homer kind of blew up and then got sucked into the snowblower.  The machine jammed up tight and wouldn’t ever start again.  We had several boys and men who could have used snow shovels to clear the driveway but no one did.  That made Mom mad and she started to scoop snow herself to make them feel guilty enough to help.  It didn’t work.  Our driveway is still snowed over. 

We watched a lot of TV.  Did I already say that?  I guess so.  But we did watch a lot, sometimes on the TV set and sometimes on our tablets and phones.  My uncles watched football a lot and they bet money.  At night they drank beer and played cards.  They bet money then too.  They argued a lot.  My friend Brenda says that her family has a lot of conversation and they play board games and they go to church and they do things for the girls at the unwed moms’ home, and for the nursing home, and for the police and firemen.  I used to think that sounded boring but I’m not so sure anymore.  The mid-winter break at my house isn’t all that super.

 We ate a lot of food over mid-winter break.  An awful lot.  My Uncle Smitty brought over his deep-frying kettle and we ate a lot of stuff using that.  We ate deep-fried Oreos and Twinkies.  And pickles and sausage and frozen egg rolls.  But I thought they all tasted like fish.  My sister told me that’s because they fried fish in the oil the first time they used it.  Anyhow, the house still smells a little like that oil, and the dog being sick, and the cigarettes.  Yuck.

 My Uncle Lou did something else strange.  He started an argument about how Christians shouldn’t celebrate Christmas at all (excuse me, I mean the mid-winter holiday) because it was really a pagan day.  He said the old Romans celebrated the day for one of their gods named Saturn.  That is the same guy as the planet is named after.  My cousin Stuart laughed at him and asked him how many people he knows nowadays who worship Saturn?  Uncle Lou said no one he could think of.  Then I guess Christianity wins, Stuart said, because people celebrate Jesus’ birthday all over the world and they have been doing it for 2,000 years.  My Uncle Lou didn’t have anything to say to that and so everyone laughed at him and he got mad and went downstairs and stayed by himself with his computer all night.  My cousin Stuart is a good arguer because he knows a lot.  At least, he thinks he knows a lot. He says he may go back to college some day if the government forgives the student loans he already has and starts giving deserving people like him grants.  Stuart is a progressive too.

 There were a couple of members of my family who are religious who were with us at Chri, I mean, at the holiday vacation.  Well, they’re not religious like my friend Brenda and her family.  But they are kinda’ religious.  My cousin Gladys, for instance.  She says she isn’t religious; she’s spiritual.  She worships Gaia, which is like Mother Nature.  Gladys isn’t radical though.  She doesn’t chain herself to trees or try to wreck boats.  Instead, she wears T-shirts about the rainforest and endangered species and overpopulation.  She also reads a lot of science fiction.  Her heroes are

Mr. Spock and Dr. Who and Oprah Winfrey.  And then there’s my Aunt Sophie.  She is religious too.  She doesn’t go to church but she does watch religious TV shows.  And she sends some of the preachers “seed money” when she wins at the casino. 

My friend Brenda – I mentioned her earlier – now she really is religious.  So is her family.  There is something very different about them but they don’t seem to care that they’re different.  They are pleasant and smart and fun to be around.  I like them. You know, Brenda didn’t make out nearly as good as me for presents but it didn’t seem to matter to her at all.  She says she had a marvelous Christmas, I mean holiday.  And I believe her. 

We had a Christmas tree holiday tree this year but it wasn’t real.  And we didn’t have it for long.  I don’t know what happened but one morning after the uncles had been watching TV, it was gone.  I saw Mom vacuuming up bits of broken ornaments so I guess it got knocked over somehow.  Also my dad had a black eye and Uncle Lou had a fat lip.  No one was talking about it though except Mom said they drank too much eggnog.  On the day after Chris the 25th, my aunts took a lot of the presents back to the stores.  Most of them, actually.  They wanted exchanges for some but refunds for the rest. They even took back some of the things that got broken on Christmas Day on the 25th.  Aunt Lucille said to just put the broke things back in the box because they never check. 

There was one thing pretty different about this mid-winter holiday for me.  And it happened when I was invited over to my friend Brenda’s on Tuesday.  Her family was having a 3rd Day of Christmas party.  (Can I say Christmas when it’s like a title for something?  If not, go ahead and cross it out, Mrs. Naylap.)  There were other people at the party too – adults and kids and teenagers.  It was a really unusual night.  We sat around their big living room together – all these different ages – and we talked.  We also sang some Christmas carols songs and people told stories of past Chr holidays.  We listened to a poet named Dylan Thomas read a long Chris poem about his Chr growing up in Wales.  That’s in Great Britain.  And then Brenda’s dad read from the Bible about the birth of Jesus.  It was really peaceful and warm and lovely.  I know it wasn’t a normal holiday, not like anybody else’s probably.  But, to be honest, I liked it a lot.  And Brenda’s house smelled nice and the things we ate were delicious.  Not one single thing tasted like fish. 

Well, that’s the story of my mid-winter break.  There were other things that happened but I would just be repeating myself – more movies, more computer games, more shopping, more sitting around on my iphone.  And for much of that time after going to Brenda’s house, I wondered what she and her family were doing.  Maybe, Mrs. Naylap, we could do with these essays what we sometimes do with our math quizzes – you know, trade them with each other.  What do you think?  I would really like to read Brenda’s paper because it seems that her mid-winter break was different from all my other friends.  And I think that’s a good thing.  Last year, in Ms. Smurdgeon’s class, I read about Christmases Yuletide celebrated by the animals in The Wind and the Willows.  And I thought that was probably the neatest holiday ever.  But I don’t know now.  I think Brenda’s family may really be on to something. 
The  End (Alyson Drenton)

            The moral of this little story is rather obvious.  It is simply this -- Christians need not be afraid of being different.  Indeed, what they should be afraid of is being in step with modern culture with its shallowness, its materialism, its self-centeredness, and its hostility to Christian values.  Not everyone is interested in the light we share through Christ-honoring lifestyles.  Indeed, many will stridently oppose us. But, make no mistake, there are a few Alysons out there who are carefully watching us and hoping that we do represent a better way.  So, for their spiritual benefit, for your blessing, and for God’s pleasure and glory, act like heavenly children in this Christmas season…and beyond.  Be that peculiar people, that royal priesthood, that band of adopted children of the King who live with a godly perspective.

            Okay, to close off this Christmas letter, let me mention just a few items.  1) Last night, December 8th, was our annual Christmas card party.  There were only a handful present but we wrote several dozen cards and letters regarding pro-life and pro-family issues PLUS a whole bunch of Christmas cards that went out to Christians around the world who are imprisoned for their faith in Jesus.  And those cards even contained Scripture verses and other messages in the prisoners’ own languages!

            2) We have already started in on what will be a really packed “When Swing Was King” schedule for December: 13 senior facilities and four church audiences!  If you would like to attend one, please do so.  The schedule is on the Vital Signs Ministries website. 

            3) Another longstanding tradition is going on this month as we mix in Christmas carols with our prayers and public pro-life witness in front of the abortion mill.  Pray for us and if you’d like to join in, let us know. 

            4) I’ll be signing copies of my new novel The Christmas Room at Divine Truth bookstore at 6905 S. 84th Street on Saturday, December 12 from 12 to 2.  I’d love to have you stop by.  Otherwise I might feel like a real goof!  If you can’t make it, may I still recommend The Christmas Room to you.  The book can be ordered on Amazon or purchased in Omaha at the Bookworm (90th and Center), Gloria Deo (130th and West Center), as well as Divine Truth. 

            5) There’s a nice collection of Christmas-oriented articles you can find on the Vital Signs Ministries website this month.  They include reading recommendations, conversation starters, poetry, meditations, and more. We are even putting on a few video clips there. Check ‘em out, won’t you? 

            6) And finally, please pray for the Lord’s blessing on these and our other ministries – the radio, the blogs, writing and speaking.  Please pray too for financial provision (we’re running a little short of covering the year’s expenses) as well as for physical and spiritual strength.  Thank you so much.  And have a blessed and very merry Christmas!

            And remember, for all the Alysons out there, keep shining your light!