NOEL! NOEL!

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By Maggie Ishino

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Two thousand years ago, a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes was born and lying in a manger in Bethlehem, because there was no room at the Inn. That Babe was Jesus, the son of God. This birth of Jesus is known worldwide as Christmas and celebrated on Dec. 25.

Christmas has different meanings to different people. For children, it is writing letters to Santa Claus or visiting him at a mall and receiving  presents. For families, it is the gathering of siblings and friends for Christmas dinner, the decorating of a Christmas tree, the buying and sharing of gifts, the singing of Christmas carols.  For office members, it is a time for the major office party of the year. For teachers, it is a time for a vacation, away from the routine of a classroom. For those who have a business, it is one of most profitable times of the year.

In the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas Day, we often forget the true meaning of Christmas. During the Christmas “season,” we should take time to have quiet moments through mediation and prayer and thank God for Jesus, His son, and for all the things He has given us. We should express our gratitude for ALL situations and circumstances of life He has given us.  When we have pain or life becomes difficult, we often wonder, Why me? God has a reason for everything He does. Let us not forget  that a pearl in the oyster is made only by years and years of irritation.

It should be a time whereby we, as believers, should share the good news of the birth of Jesus who forever reigns and lives. That Christmas, the birth of Jesus, is a reality and not a myth.

There are some of us who live alone, others who lie in hospital beds and the thought of loneliness creeps up. Christmas is the time to remember that we are never alone because we have a Friend who is ALWAYS with us.

The thought of Christmas reminded me of my most memorable childhood Christmas. Allow me to share an Ochazuke I wrote a few years ago titled, “And the Angels Sang.”

I was eight years old when I saw her in the window of a neighborhood dry goods store. She had long brown curls. She had a perfect round face with large brown eyes and long eyelashes. Her checks were soft pink. She had a cute little nose. Her lips were small and red. She wore a green organdy dress with ruffles and a hat to match. She wore white socks and shoes. She sat on a small wicker chair. It was love at first sight. She was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen.

Every day after school I would stop and look in the window where she sat. I stared at her with longing eyes. I felt that she was smiling at me.

The time was 1931, shortly after the start of the Great Depression, and I knew it was a struggle for Papa and Mama to provide for the mere necessities of life for a family of five, but I wanted that doll more than anything else in this whole wide world. I begged Mama. I told her I would do anything she asked. I promised her I would never fight with Henry, my younger, six-year-old brother or ever hit him again. I  begged Mama to get the doll  for me for Christmas. Mama looked at me with loving eyes, but she never said a word.

It was the Friday before Christmas vacation. I stopped by to look into the window and my beautiful doll was gone! The tears streamed down my checks slowly but steadily. Someone had bought my doll! I cried myself to sleep that night.

Christmas Day came and about noon, there was a knock on the front door. I answered it. It was the lady who owned the dry goods store. She was carrying a long box which was festively wrapped and smiled at me as she said, “Merry Christmas, Honey!”

I opened the box and there she was, my beautiful doll! I  held her in my arms and leaped with joy.

And the Angels sang. I know that even God smiled down from Heaven at one happy little girl on a Christmas Day many, many years ago.

My best wishes to you for a joyous, prosperous and healthy Christmas. May Christmas be every day for you and may the Angels sing for you.

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“Noel! Noel!” was originally published in our Rafu Shimpo Holiday Issue—Saturday, December 4, 2010.

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4 Comments

  1. Maggie, thank you for sharing, and have a Merry Christmas. Let’s never forget that Jesus is the reason for the season.

  2. Hi, Maggie. Love your columns. Your Christmas story about the doll was so heartwarming.
    We worked together at the JACL Office way back in the 50’s. Think of you often. Love from your San Francisco buddy, Daisy.

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