Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Several years ago a friend shared the following story with me (author unknown). I came across the story this past week. As I read it again, I remembered why I had saved the printed copy I had been given. It has a message for all of us. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Wishing you a very Blessed Merry Christmas!
In Christ's Love,
The Spirit of Christmas
Once upon a time in a community much like our own town, there was an old man who lived alone. His neighbors and his fellow workers thought of him as a crusty old sort of hard-nose who seldom smiled except in sarcasm. He'd been married once, but his wife died early on and people who remembered say he'd never been the same since.
Of course, there were people all around him, where he worked and lived, but inside, this old man was all alone. He often thought, “There's not a single person in the whole world who loves me.” At Thanksgiving, no one invited him for turkey. On Halloween, the kids tee-peed his bushes and trees even when he treated them. No one sent him Christmas presents or remembered his birthday.
Then one late December forenoon, something happened that changed his life and the lives of many people in his town. He received a Christmas card.
Actually, the whole thing was a very big mistake. A young woman who lived down the street intended to send the card to her boyfriend, but she put down the wrong house number. And so it came to the lonely old man. The envelope simply said, “To my favorite person, 213 2nd St., City.” When the old man opened the card, he saw the words, “Merry Christmas, I love you.” signed, “Guess Who?” Suddenly tears came to his old eyes...his heart surged...and he thought to himself, “Finally, someone loves me.”
Not sure who has sent the card, he did what you might consider to be a strange thing. He went downtown. And he bought Christmas cards – hundreds of Christmas cards.
So that he would not miss that special somebody (who was really that girl down the street, you remember), this old man spent many late nights in front of his fireplace addressing Christmas cards to send to everyone he could think of: all his neighbors, fellow workers, janitors in his building, folks in his church, people in his old high school class; and the lonely man signed all the cards; “....And I love you too!” - knowing for sure that the right person would understand.
When all these people received the old man's cards in the mail signed, “And I love you too!” they all hurried out and bought all the Christmas cards they could find, because, you see, many of them were just as lonely as the old man. Many thought that no one in the world loved them either. And when that card came which said “And I love you too!” they decided to send one to everyone they knew so that someone special would not be missed, even though by now Christmas had come and gone.
Days ran into weeks, and weeks ran into months. People all over the community where the lonely man lived were so involved with his mighty chain of Christmas cards with greetings on them that they closed the courts (no one had time to fuss or be bad), people smiled at each other all the time (not sure of who might be their loved one), old ladies helped children across the street, flowers grew in garbage cans, the penitentiary was closed (no business).
As for the lonely old man, he became the jolliest man the community had ever seen. He lived a long and happy life because his mailbox, like everyone's in his neighborhood and in his town, was always stuffed with Christmas card that told greetings of love.
A little piece of fantasy, to be sure, something for our children. But tucked away in there is a message for all of us. A message that had its beginning on that night so long ago, whose events we will always come together and celebrate. And that message, deep from the heart of God is this: “Merry Christmas my people. I love you.”
And what a way to tell us. God, there in Jesus Christ at Bethlehem in the manger where Joseph could tickle his toes and smelly shepherds could breathe their germs on him and Mary could shake her head and smile. And from that most humble of beginnings with a little crying and cooing and gurgling of a newborn, God's message has come tumbling and rolling down through the centuries, touching the hearts of millions of people throughout the world: “Merry Christmas, my people, I love you,”
Let this Christmas become a time when we open ourselves up to share the greatest gifts we have been given – the gift of Jesus who is love. For Christmas reminds us of that message that will melt the coldest heart and comfort the loneliest and most fearful person:
“Merry Christmas, my children, I love you.”