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Scott23“Your dad can come home for Christmas Day but he cannot do so unless the ramp is on the house.”  Those words from my mom and the staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira, NY greeted me ten days before Christmas and about five seconds after I heard those words … the panic set in!

Let me back up just a little bit.  My dad had been involved in an accident in early November of that year that had left him paralyzed from his chest down.  As you might imagine, that news was quite an adjustment for my family and especially my mom and dad.  My dad was in his late 50’s at the time and was in fairly good health.  The damage to his spine in the accident was irreversible and there was no hope that he would ever walk again.

Dad had endured about a nine-hour surgery on his back and had been a couple of weeks in the hospital recovering from that surgery.  Once he recovered, it was time for him to start his rehab.  The rehab was going to be long.  The hospital estimated that it would be a minimum of three months as my dad had to relearn how to do most everything from a wheelchair.  During this time, my parent’s house had to be “remodeled” in order to accommodate a handicapped person in a wheelchair.

Now, back to those words that I opened my article with!  My dad, who was always one of the most determined people I ever met, did very well in rehab.  He learned quickly and because of his physical strength was able to attack most of the tasks and master them quickly.  Part of the rehab was to make day trips to the patient’s home, eventually leading to overnight stays and then they would be released to out-patient therapy.  We were not expecting these day trips to take place until the new year but then, they sprung that announcement on us that dad had done so well in rehab that he could come home for a few hours on Christmas Day, but we had to have a ramp.

We had contacted a company about putting the ramp on the house, but they were not going to be there until February.  There is no way we were going to disappoint my dad and my mom and we were determined to get my dad home on Christmas Day.  My brother is the builder in the family, however, I have some design ability and we got the required specifications from the hospital.  My brother and I set out to design a ramp.  The hospital approved the design and we went to the hardware store to buy the materials we need.

We both took a couple of days off work and on December 21st, we began building the ramp.  Now, keep in mind this is in December and we lived in upstate New York!  We had a foot or two of snow in the yard and a lot of frozen ground to dig through.  It has been nearly 30 years, but I can still remember my brother and I lying in the snow and trying to dig out the post holes for the ramp supports!  We were freezing, yet laughing, and happy to be doing it for our dad.

Two days later, with some additional help from some brothers-in-laws, church members and family friends, we put the finishing touches on the ramp.  On December 23rd, the inspector from the hospital came and gave their approval and on Christmas Morning, my mom and I went to the hospital and picked up my dad and brought him home for the first time in nearly two months.  We all watched in amazement as dad rolled his wheelchair up the ramp, on to the porch and then, of course, in to the house!

That ramp served my dad for the remainder of his life.  I will never forget that Christmas season.  The sadness of my dad after the accident in knowing that he would never walk again.  The incredible faith he exhibited as he tackled the rehab assignment with amazing determination and my mom’s faith that everything would be okay.  I remember my brother and I knowing we were tackling a nearly impossible task of building a ramp in two days in the middle of the winter yet knowing we were going to be successful.

That Christmas Day was amazing.  Most of my family was there.  We exchanged gifts.  We had a nice meal.  We exchanged a lot of memories, tears and most of all, we remembered why were celebrating.  None of that strength or faith came from us.  It came from our Savior, Jesus Christ.  The very one whose birth we were celebrating that day.  He died for our sins and even in the face of what most people would consider a tragedy, He was faithful.

Did we want God to heal our dad, so he would walk again?  Did we believe God could do that?  Of course, we did, and I would imagine that every member of my family and numerous friends prayed that prayer at one time or another.  However, God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) and He knows best. There is no doubt that God was still blessing each of us in very unique ways that Christmas Season and especially that Christmas Day when my dad came home for Christmas.

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One of my favorite Christmas memories was back in 2016 when we brought our Christmas to Remember Concert out West.

Pamela Warren wanted to bring gifts for everyone and we all thought her idea was out of the budget. Thankfully the Lord had other plans. Gifts started pouring in from family and friends and before we knew it, we had hundreds of gifts to give away.

My favorite concert during that tour was at the Navajo School where all the children and workers received Operation Christmas Child boxes. You should have heard the laughter and joy resonating from those children!

On our way back home, Pam dropped off my mother and I in Michigan so we could be with our family on Christmas day. That was one of my favorite Christmas!

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Christmas dinner at Pam W. and Pam S.’s house was always a delicious time. The two Pam’s provided all of the food. It was a feast to remember. Pam and Pam roasted the turkey. Bill prepared the ham, and Jim, our very own professional chef, prepared the tenderloin. Each year he prepared it differently. One year he prepared peanut butter and jelly tenderloin. Sound gross? You had to eat it to believe how great it was.

Broccoli casserole and cherry stuff were also favorites.

I miss the days when the whole family got together for Christmas.

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The serene view of the first snowfall of the year.  That magical feeling when you share a cup of hot chocolate with a close friend.  The festivities of putting those nostalgic Christmas Ornaments in the perfect place.  The wafting scent of Christmas Cookies flowing through the air.  The smile that comes on your face when you hear your favorite Christmas Song. The planning and anticipation of the annual Church Christmas Program.  The amazement you feel when you read the Christmas Story in the Bible.  The gratitude and sheer astonishment you feel when you reflect on and realize the true reason Jesus Christ came to this earth!  Memories … the Christmas Season is full of memories.  And we love to dwell on those good memories this time of the year.

Last year, the members of Final Harvest took over the blog and wrote about some of our favorite memories.  In the eleven days leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Day, each member of the Final Harvest team shared with our readers some of our favorite Christmas remembrances.  We called it “The 12 Memories Of Christmas” and it was a popular feature last year and this year, we will be doing it again!  Well, with a special twist!

Each member of the Final Harvest team will be sharing two of their favorite Christmas memories beginning on December 13th and continuing through Christmas Day. We will be sharing one memory a day with our readers here on the blog.  Authoring these memories will be the singers you see on stage; Pamela Warren, Pam Sandberg and Lacy Burdick as well as Marilyn Turpin who runs the sound at our concerts, Maryanne Himmelsbach, who is in charge of ministry outreach and manages and maintains our product tables and sales, Scott Evans, who designs our website, handles our social media accounts and is our liaison to radio and other media outlets and one entry from a very special guest author who we will tell you about later!

We invite you to join us on our blog beginning on December 13th for the new and improved, “The 13 Memories Of Christmas” as we reminisce and share some serious moments, some comical moments and some of our favorite Christmas Memories as we talk about some of those events that have made some of our previous Christmases, “A Christmas To Remember.”

 

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The serene view of the first snowfall of the year.  That magical feeling when you share a cup of hot chocolate with a close friend.  The festivities of putting those nostalgic Christmas Ornaments in the perfect place.  The wafting scent of Christmas Cookies flowing through the air.  The smile that comes on your face when you hear your favorite Christmas Song. The planning and anticipation of the annual Church Christmas Program.  The amazement you feel when you read the Christmas Story in the Bible.  The gratitude and sheer astonishment you feel when you reflect on and realize the true reason Jesus Christ came to this earth!  Memories … the Christmas Season is full of memories.  And we love to dwell on those good memories this time of the year.

Last year, the members of Final Harvest took over the blog and wrote about some of our favorite memories.  In the eleven days leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Day, each member of the Final Harvest team shared with our readers some of our favorite Christmas remembrances.  We called it “The 12 Memories Of Christmas” and it was a popular feature last year and this year, we will be doing it again!  Well, with a special twist!

Each member of the Final Harvest team will be sharing two of their favorite Christmas memories beginning on December 13th and continuing through Christmas Day. We will be sharing one memory a day with our readers here on the blog.  Authoring these memories will be the singers you see on stage; Pamela Warren, Pam Sandberg and Lacy Burdick as well as Marilyn Turpin who runs the sound at our concerts, Maryanne Himmelsbach, who is in charge of ministry outreach and manages and maintains our product tables and sales, Scott Evans, who designs our website, handles our social media accounts and is our liaison to radio and other media outlets and one entry from a very special guest author who we will tell you about later!

We invite you to join us on our blog beginning on December 13th for the new and improved, “The 13 Memories Of Christmas” as we reminisce and share some serious moments, some comical moments and some of our favorite Christmas Memories as we talk about some of those events that have made some of our previous Christmases, “A Christmas To Remember.”

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For unto you is born this day

What astonishing thoughts to ponder: the birth of Christ.  There is much information to suggest that Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th.  No one really has full understanding concerning the day or hour of His birth or of His return.  For various biblical reasons, many suggest that His birth was late September.  His return has yet to be revealed.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matt. 24:36

What is of most importance is that “He Came.”

I was seven years old.  We had just come home from our Christmas Eve service.  What a great night.  We had the prettiest music; the preacher spoke of Christ’s birth.  Just like every other year, all of the children received the yummiest chocolates, which to me, normally seemed to be the best part!  This year was different.  For the last two years dad had been finishing off a bedroom for my sister Cindy and me.  Tonight after church was the unveiling.  My parents brought us upstairs and opened our bedroom door.  It was so beautiful.  It was all the latest lighting and furnishings.  Our two years of waiting had paid off.

I was so excited to receive this long-awaited gift. As I sat there on my new bed looking for Santa out the window, basking in thoughts of all the gifts that I would receive the next morning, my thoughts drew back to the evening service.  I began to feel a bit guilty.   Leaving my new bedroom, I ran downstairs to my mom and said…”if Jesus’ birthday is tomorrow, why all the gifts around the tree?  Doesn’t seem to make much sense, they’re all address to me.” Then I asked her what I could give Jesus as a gift.  She proceeded to tell me.  Your Heart.  One of the greatest points that she made was, “Doesn’t matter when He was born, love Him everyday the same…”

The song “He Came” is the story of this event and is dedicated to my dad, Howard Wells.

Thanks, Dad and Mom, for that night.  So many years later, I still remember.

Listen below to the song written by Pamela Warren and sung by Final Harvest, “He Came.”

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My parents made Christmas so special for my brother and me! It’s hard to describe the excitement that filled my heart! It was so hard to fall asleep on Christmas Eve!

Chuck usually woke up first. He would then wake me and then we’d jump in bed between Dad and Mom! This could take place as early as 4 or 5am. We didn’t realize at the time that they were just getting to bed after wrapping all our gifts! Then, Chuck and I had to wait at the top of the stairs until mom turned all the lights on in the living room.

Mom always went all out decorating beautifully for the holidays. It wasn’t just tree lights. Our whole house was lit up so pretty. Then finally, what seemed to be an eternity, happened!!! We could see all our presents under the tree! It completely covered the living room floor! They were wrapped with such care! The bows were perfect! Mom made them all out of ribbon! They were her own designs.

Dad would take out the Bible and read the Christmas story from Luke. Then we’d dig into the presents. It would literally take a couple hours or more to open everything.

Mom would make our favorite breakfast! Her pancakes were the best! The table was set so pretty. We ate until we were full.

Then at noon, the family would come over. We played with our cousins all day until it was time to eat again! Dinner was a masterpiece! Mom could really cook…and the pies!!!! I remember eating an entire pumpkin pie and getting so sick! I didn’t touch another pumpkin pie for a very long time!

Being together as a family was the greatest part of Christmas for me…then, maybe the presents!!!

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marilynChristmas Eve in our house was often spent helping Mom wrap gifts.  She would hand a box to my sister, Patsy, and one to me.  Our job was to wrap the gift but we were never allowed to look inside the box.  Once the gift was wrapped, Mom told us whose name went on the tag.  The name was quite often our own.  It was a great opportunity to learn a lesson in integrity and honesty.

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marianne2I was raised Catholic and practiced those traditions until recently.  Many Christmas memories go back to my church.  The family Mass held various activities such as the children decorating the church tree, the pastor gathering the children in the sanctuary as he sat in a rocking chair to tell the story of the first Christmas, or the children’s pageant where children participated in the Christmas story as the Gospel of Luke was being read.

One particular Christmas, after Mass my children and I went over to look at the nativity scene.  As we were standing there a woman with long, gray, curly hair came beside us, picking up a piece of straw saying; “every year I take a piece of straw to remind me I will never want for anything.”

Back then I thought that was such a profound statement.  Today I see things differently.  Perhaps the piece of straw is a reminder, but all we need is found in God’s Word.  Jesus was born that first Christmas to give His life as a perfect sacrifice as a ransom for us.  Throughout scripture God has provided for His people, and He will provide for you too.   This Christmas seek Him first above all.  “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”  (Matthew 6:33 NLT)