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A Favorite Christmas Memory from Long Ago

You have the chance to make memories with your family this week.

Take a break from worrying about whether you'll make a profit next year, how to zap marestail or waterhemp and all that important stuff, and think back over some of your Christmas memories. Those are the good times. They last a lifetime.

One of mine is visiting the late Dave Buck's farm a few days before Christmas many years ago. Back in those days, the youth group from the local church put on a live nativity scene. Only it wasn't at the church – it was in Dave's old barn. The barn was one of those wooden, pin, red barns built for the days when everybody raised some livestock and had seven-foot disks and M or WD tractors. Not much fits in them today. But the people playing Mary (Dave's daughter Mandy, now Mandy Olsen) and Joseph, along with all the other characters, had plenty of room.

Several people gathered up outside the barn before going in at once. Once inside, it was quiet – just like it might have been on the real night 2,000 years ago. Inside the barn you could hear a pin drop, except for some of the baa-ing and other noises of the live animals that were in the scene. It was more like being there than seeing it. You almost felt that you were witnessing an historic event.

That's why it's still vivid in my mind. We'll go to our Christmas Eve service this week, the Church will be packed and we'll sing carols, both old and new, but my mind will wander back to that scene in rural Wayne County, and simply still be amazed at how it seemed like we were in Bethlehem. Even the tree in the lot outside the barn was odd-shaped, like you might find in the land where Jesus was born.

Dave is no longer here. He perished in a grain bin accident. But his memory lives on. In some ways it lives on in the scenes he helped create so people could feel connected to the true reason for the holiday – to the birth of Jesus.

It happened in the stable behind an inn in Bethlehem. But what I saw in a barn in the middle of nowhere helped me realize the significance of what a tremendous gift God gave us, and how he did it in the most humble of ways.

That's my memory. You'll have your own. And the best part is you've got a whole new season to make new memories to carry into the future with you and your family.

Merry Christmas!

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