Introduction: Christmas puts me in a pensive mood. As we continue to live during the dark days of this pandemic, I took some time to ponder some of the unearned blessings, the taken-for-granted gifts I received in my early life. I concluded that in many ways, I was a princess—although I didn’t know it. In hard times, it’s good to recall God’s past blessings. They give us courage to trust God’s love in the present and in the future. I think this reflection is appropriate for Christmas as we celebrate the birth of a little child, the Prince of Peace:

I was a princess… and I didn’t know it.

I was born into wealth beyond measure… beyond merit… and I didn’t know it.

I was born into wealth beyond measure… (photo: J. Carter)

I entered this world already loved by two parents even before I made my entrance. They had loved me as soon as they realized I was on the way. Theirs was a love unconditional and lavish… and I hadn’t done a single thing to earn such love. On the contrary, as soon as I entered this world, I did some things unworthy of affection: I cried… I pooped… I fussed… and I demanded 24-hour attention and care.

I was born into a world of instant playmates: two brothers and a sister who would accompany me as I began to explore my new world of mystery, magic, and fun. And when I encountered frightening things (like thunder and lightning… a snake… a strange noise in the dark), I always had someone to run to.

I was born into a world of instant playmates… my brothers and sister… (photo Michael Morse)

I was a princess… and I didn’t know it.

My kingdom was an expanse of fields and woods, lawns and an orchard, creeks and a pond, and even an old brown barn with a hayloft for romping in. And I had wonderful animal companions too: several dogs… an endless series of cats and kittens… lots of chickens and ducks… and hundreds of white Emden geese who’s soft, steady murmurings would rupture into loud squawking at feeding time or when an owl, hawk, or even an eagle (once) flew over them real low searching for its dinner.

My playground included an old brown barn. with a hayloft for romping in... (photo: Pixabay)

I didn’t live in a palace, but I did live in a big old yellow farm house… I was fed freshly picked beans, corn, and Swiss chard from our royal garden… I was free to pick an apple or a pear from the trees out back anytime I wanted to… And our realm had strawberries, blackberries, and elderberries. It was a world bedecked with flowers of all kinds: purple lilacs by the front porch… white petunias and red salvia in front of the house… and pink and white roses in the side yard.

My realm was bedecked with flowers… (photo: Valerie Boltneva)

From the beginning, I was given a regal education. My parents and siblings taught me the duties of saying please… thank you… I’m sorry… I forgive you. I was given royal chores to do, and in time I learned that the sooner I got my chores done, the sooner I got to play. My parents handed down to me the gift of their faith. I was taught to talk to God every night (and even sometimes during the day) and to go to Church every Sunday (even when I didn’t feel like it).

The kingdom I was born into was not a perfect kingdom. And I soon learned that the imperfections (my own, those of others, and those embedded in certain circumstances) were opportunities to grow in patience, trust, and love. They also provided opportunities for me to do my noble duty of helping to make the kingdom a better place for all. For, from my earliest days, I had been let in on the Secret of Life: my royal lineage. I am a child of God… Amazing! And so is everyone else… Even more amazing!

I was a princess… and I didn’t know it. But now, many, many years later, I am still a princess… only now I know it.

For reflection:

What “unearned blessings” did you receive in your early life?

What “wealth beyond measure… beyond merit” are you receiving today as an adult?

What were (are) some of the “imperfections” you have had to face in your life? Have they helped you to grow in patience, trust, and love? What small part are you doing to make this “earthly kingdom” a better place for all?

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I wish you love, peace and joy as we celebrate the birth of Jesus into our world! I am holding you and your loved ones in special prayer…

PS: As many of you know, my sister, Mary Ann, passed away four years ago shortly before Christmas. This Christmas her daughter, Lori, received a very special Christmas gift from her good friend Kim. (They’ve known each other since 7th grade!) The gift was a black apron with a gingerbread recipe on it. What makes this gift so special is this: it’s my sister’s recipe written in her own hand! How precious is that?! As soon as Lori saw the familiar handwriting, she cried… When I saw a picture of the apron, I had tears too. A few days ago, Lori wore the apron to make gingerbread cookies. She told me they turned out perfect. Here’s a picture of her unique and precious apron:

(When I’m editing this reflection, the photo above is perfectly clear. But when I save it, it sometimes becomes a little blurred. I have no idea why. But I’m hoping most of you get the clear image of my sister’s recipe. Her handwriting is so beautiful!)

I have two videos for you. The first is a 4-year-old girl, Sophia A. Siban, a little princess, singing “Because He Lives,” a song that reminds us of the rest of the Christmas story—namely, the Easter story! At Christmas we celebrate not only Jesus’ birth, but the fact that Jesus continues to live—in us and in our world. How much we need this message during this pandemic. The second video is one of my favorite renditions of “Joy to the World” by Mannheim Steamroller.

Sophia Siban: As I listened and watched her sing this song, I recalled those words from Isaiah 11:6: “And a little child shall lead them.”

“Joy to the World” by Mannheim Steamroller:

Thank you so much for reading my blog! You are a gift to me!

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