I LOVE Christmas—the twinkling of Christmas lights late at night, the sharp pine-y scent of Christmas trees, the smell (& taste!) of delicious baked goods, the cold that brings a red blush to the cheek … the quiet moments of hearing “Silent Night” and remembering with gratitude my Savior born so long ago … the joyous belting out of Handel’s Messiah (I’m a soprano & those high notes are a joy to sing!) … I love it all!

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Christmas Carol

We have a Christmas tradition in our home that I especially love. Every year, I read ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens, once the younger ones are tucked into bed and the older ones are curled up doing various activities. I love to read in various accents the voices of each beloved character: Scrooge, with his tight-fisted hatred of mankind and of Christmas; nephew Fred, with his genial Christmas cheer; the ghosts of Christmas Past and Present with their lessons to teach, and each of the other various cast members in this much-beloved tale.

My favorite lines are spoken by Jacob Marley, an absolutely frightening, yet still loving mentor to Scrooge. Quick refresher: Jacob appears as a ghost to his former business partner, Ebenezer Scrooge, wearing chains of iron and clearly miserable in his death. Jacob has come on an errand of mercy—to teach Scrooge to change his money-loving ways and to instead focus on serving those around him.

“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”

jacob-marley“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again.

“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

“… any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness.”

This. This has been my experience as I have opened my eyes to really see others around me on this journey of life—there is SO much need. Everywhere.

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Serving

Yesterday I was grocery shopping—an all-day event for a family of six during the holidays! While I was in line at Aldi’s, the lady behind me was angry. VERY angry. She was ticked off that there was only one register open. She loudly complained about the lack of another open register. She complained to me, to the man behind her in line, and to herself. She made sure that everyone within hearing distance knew of her irritation.

So, I acted. I invited her to get in front of me in line, as it seemed like she needed a bit of Christmas cheer. I hoped that doing so would help her realize that all of us were in the same boat. Perhaps her anger was a mask to hide the heavy grief over the loss of a loved one. I didn’t know what her personal journey was, and if I could make it a bit brighter by letting her move up in line, then I was glad to wait a bit longer.

I’m not sure what I expected—maybe a thank you, maybe a bit less vitriol. I definitely didn’t expect her to complain about having to move her cart allll the way in front of me, nor the continued loud complaints about everyone who worked there, shopped there, or even drove by there.

She continued her tirade out the door and, presumably, into the parking lot.

I made a conscious effort not to allow her to get under my skin and to instead laugh off the peculiarities of people. I hadn’t had a lot of expectation in allowing her to step up in line and, despite her complaints, still felt that lifting of spirits that doing something nice for another person always brings.

market-893319_640As I returned my cart, I noticed another woman struggling to carry her bags and a couple gallons of water to the parking lot. I jogged over and offered to help, since we were headed in the same direction. She turned her body protectively in front of her groceries and skeptically asked, “How do you know we’re going the same way?” (As though I had an ulterior motive, like stealing her water?) Still giggling to myself about the angry line lady’s earlier response to my attempt at helpfulness, I laughing responded, “Well, my van is parked in the parking lot. Aren’t you parked there too?”

Maybe it was my self-depreciating laughter or maybe she sensed that I wasn’t desperate for her water jugs … whatever the reason, she allowed me to carry some of her bags to her car. (Which was parked RIGHT next to me, by the way—proving that I was right, we were going the same direction!)

Once her groceries were safely stowed in her car, she shut the door and looked up at me with a look of gratitude mingled with angry confusion, “Um, thanks. Why did you do that?” I shrugged, told her that we all need to help each other out, right? Life is rough. She sighed, sagged into the side of her car and said, “Yeah. You’re right. Guess I never thought of that.”

To read more of Emlee's articles, click here.

To read more of Emlee’s articles, click here.

“… any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness.”

May we follow Jacob Marley’s counsel to show one another a bit more charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence this Christmas season.

About Emlee Taylor
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years. 

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