Stories & Anecdotes
The Hidden Meaning Behind
the 12 Days of Christmas
This gives a whole new meaning
to the song...
People often think of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' as the days
preceding the festival. Historically, Christmas is the season of the Christian
Year for the days beginning on December 25 and lasting until January 6 (the Day of
Epiphany) when the church celebrates the revelation of Christ as the light of
the world and recalls the journey of the Magi. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to
practice their faith openly. During that era someone wrote 'The Twelve Days of
Christmas' as a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without
risk of persecution. The song has two levels of interpretation: the surface meaning plus a
hidden meaning known only to members of the church. Each element in the
carol is a code word for a religious reality.
The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
Two Babes In a Manger
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for
the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary
and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple
went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born, and then placed in a manger.
The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about six years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger.
"...And when Maria laid the baby in the
manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told
him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay.
Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did.
But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe
I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a
good gift. So I asked Jesus, 'If I keep you warm will that be a good enough
gift?' And Jesus told me, 'If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift
anybody has ever given me.' So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked
at me and told me I could stay with him ~ for always."
What gifts would you bring to the manger?
by Angela Etwell Hunt
Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him. "I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"
The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. "I want to be a strong sailing ship, "he said. "I want to travel mighty waters and carry powerful kings. I will be the strongest ship in the world!"
The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and busy women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave this mountaintop at all," she said. "I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world!"
Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day, three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest," thought the first tree. "I shall hold wonderful treasure."
The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters," thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship fit for kings!"
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me," he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.
The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought him to a carpenter's shop, but the busy carpenter was not thinking about treasure chests. Instead his work-worn hands fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold or filled with treasure. He was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.
The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took him to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead, the once-strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. Too small and too weak to sail an ocean or even a river, he was taken to a little lake. Every day he brought in loads of dead, smelly fish.
The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in the lumberyard. "What happened?" the once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and point to God."
Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. "I wish I could make a cradle for him," her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful," she said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.
One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuttered. He knew he did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the King of heaven and earth.
One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry, jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.
But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the first tree beautiful. It had made the second tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.
That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.
This is the original story as written by Angela Etwell Hunt.
This story is protected by copyright.
For more information about Angela's works, visit her website:
The Tale of Three Trees - A traditional Folktale by Angela Etwell Hunt.
Materials from The Tale of Three Trees, Chariot Victor Publishing, copyright 1989.
(This original story may be forwarded without
compensation so long as the Title, Author's name, Publisher's name, Copyright notice,
this statement and the full story are forwarded in their entirety.)
Holiday Eating Tips
My First Christmas
This is for anyone
has lost a loved one:
We sang once again with the angels
Shelton Family, wish
all of you a wonder-filled
Christmas season and a
blessed new year!
Dave and Barb
Sharnessa & Sam (Sharn's husband:) ,
Carlianne (age 18),
and Tory & Chrissy (Tory's wife)
All of us in 2004, from left to right,
starting with Dave and me in middle-front:
And here's the revised, added-to, now-11-member Shelton Family
at Carlianne and CJ's wedding in July 1012! ~ with our
3 grandpunkins: L to R: Weston, 4.5, Chase, 6, and Jonah, 6.
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I got the Nativity Scene background at:
I got the Nativity Scene directly above, the Mary holding Baby Jesus, and the Babe in the Manger from Helena's
I got the shining star and the twinkling-stars night sky background from:
I got the angel holding a gift from:
I got the Christmas bells at:
I got the twinkling Christmas Tree and bar of poinsettias from: