“All these years we’ve been so generous. I’m afraid we’ve given all our wealth away. I’m afraid we have no more to give.”
Winter Cherries, as told by Odds Bodkin

May this problem—one that brings into focus an amazing aspect of the gift of Christmas—be one we might have to face.

Every year we listen to the story of Sir Cleges and his wife Dame Claris as wonderfully retold by Odds Bodkin in ‘Winter Cherries.’ I always cry. As Christmas approaches the old knight and his wife realize their generosity has outstripped their means.

“You mean, we’re poor as well?”
“I’m afraid we are.”
“But the little children…”
Sir Cleges’ thoughts go immediately to the little children. So he goes outside and kneels in the snow. “Oh Lord, I’m old, I’ve not got many more years. All I want is to spend the rest of my days just giving it all away. Help me Lord.”

I leave the rest of the story for your fond discovery or rediscovery. Suffice to say, the Lord hears his prayer. Who am I to say, but it seems such a prayer, earnestly said, would indeed touch the Lord’s heart. May the Lord teach us to pray for what he wants us to have.

Christmas has always been associated with helping the poor—materially, spiritually, or other. At this annual celebration we are reminded that God identifies himself with the poor. They were not simply his project; they were his kin and kind.

The story of Cleges and Claris reminds us of an age when perhaps ‘the poor’ were more obvious, and helping them a bit more straightforward. But surely then as always, the deeper poverty is the more significant, one which makes unique demands on our time and energy, even when not our material resources.

The materially poor have always known to come asking at Christmas time; and this is as much a gift to us as it is to them. But many of the needy, perhaps including ourselves, will not know for what to ask this Christmas, not knowing their own greatest needs.

Oh Lord, help us to see these needs. And help us to address them, no matter the cost. May this be your gift to us, especially at Christmas.

“For the rest of their days, he and his wife Dame Claris, had plenty of gold, plenty of silver, to give away to the little children on Christmas eve.” We wish you all such a very Merry Christmas!
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Don’t forget to go to Sofia’s Corner for your Christmas Carol printable booklet, audio files to learn/practice the songs, AND lists of stories to read-a-loud for all ages this Christmas!

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