My Christmas angel

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From the desk of…

by Patricia Swyers, Commissioner –

It was Christmas, and all the family was gathered together for our Christmas Eve dinner at my grandmother’s home. This was a long-standing tradition for all our family and one we looked forward to each year. The tree had been cut and decorated and underneath its branches were the many gifts that had been brought for the “gift exchange” following our meal. It was a meal that consisted of the specialties of all the cooks topped off with the “best ever” sweet potato pies, lovingly baked by Mama Lowery! As usual we were packed together in every available nook and cranny of her home and there was lots and lots of conversation.

It all seemed so normal, except to the one new soul who had been invited to be a part of this large, happy family. He later described the evening as “wall to wall” people and although he made a big hit with all the relatives, he was hoping that they would all leave so we could be alone. When the last group said their good-byes, he excused himself to retrieve a gift from his car. There was excitement as he presented a beautiful angel in her red velvet robe clutching tightly to a sparkling solitaire diamond ring. That young man and I will be remembering that special Christmas Eve as we celebrate our 40th anniversary on December 21st. Forty Christmases of sharing life together and there’s never been a dull moment!

Christmas is a beautiful time of the year to have a wedding, but every year since then has been interesting, as we’ve tried to celebrate our anniversary. There have been years of ringing bells, buying and wrapping gifts for the corps and nursing homes, cooking meals for community and corps dinners, Christmas parties and plays and carol sings, and seeing joy on the faces of children and their parents as they receive their Christmas gifts from our Toy Store. What a great way to celebrate together—helping people and knowing that you’ve had the sacred privilege of making a difference for others.

My ring continues to be a reminder of the special love that Phil and I have shared together, and that special angel graced our Christmas tree every year as we lovingly placed her on top of our tree. Each year she was carefully wrapped and unwrapped, but time took its toll on her and several years ago, we decided that she would reside among our Christmas treasures as she needed to be replaced with a new angel.

The gift of love that came with the lovely angel holding the ring that now surrounds an arthritic finger are gifts that last. A gift that can’t be replaced. It is a great reminder of the greatest of all gifts which we celebrate each December. The gift of God’s love that was all wrapped up in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. A gift that came through the devotion and obedience of a young girl named Mary and the commitment of Joseph as they followed God’s plan as told to them by His angel messenger. This Christmas I thank God for His daily blessings of joy, peace and love of family and friends, but most of all I thank Him for the gift of Jesus who came to be my Savior and the Savior of all mankind.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).



Sharper focus by Erin Wikle – We walked about half a mile up a dusty dirt

Circular Patches

Circular Patches

Body builder by Terry Camsey, Major – He wore this brown suit of rather

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