DECORATING FOR CHRISTMAS
Outside, the “hush” of new falling snow
Feathering bush and tree in downy white—
Inside, there is holly and mistletoe
And twinkling light.
I’ve placed baubles of red; green and gold—
But how insignificant compared to the
Christ Child, the Wise men, kneeling shepherds
And the sheep of the fold.
I almost hear the voice of Angels
Proclaiming that long-ago wondrous sight—
Oh why do I follow a worldly custom
On this beloved Christmas night?
—Opal H. Clarke
We follow this Christmas custom because we believe Jesus was born to be a Savior for us all. We are important to Heavenly Father and that is why he gave us a Savior. He loves us more than we could ever know. When the Christmas season is upon us, we think about Christ and what he did for us. We sing Christmas songs, such as White Christmas or Silver Bells and Christmas carols about his birth. We even read stories that talk about this special time of year.
I would like to tell you about a Christmas Miracle. It’s one that I have told before, but it’s Christmas time and it’s worth telling again.
Don’t Let Him Die
I first became aware of my twelve year old son, George’s, illness when the choppy rendition at the piano of “Hark! The Herald Angels sing,” had stopped. Glancing at him, his head resting on the piano, I asked, “What’s wrong?’
He replied, “I don’t feel good.” As he looked up I saw his cheeks were flushed; on closer inspection it proved to be a fine rash. He had a temperature. I called our family doctor and described the symptoms. He said it sounded like the measles that were going around and he prescribed a well-known drug.
The next day, George complained of his eyes hurting. Blisters began to appear on his ears and lips, and his temperature rose. After sitting by his side for several hours, I had to leave the room momentarily. As I returned, the sight was so shocking. I rushed from the room, dropped to the floor and cried. George had rubbed all the skin from his blistered lips. His ears, neck and face were a mass of blisters, with one large blister hanging like a sac on one side of his face. George did not sleep. He kept asking us to please turn out the lights. It was frightening to hear him ask this; there was only a small night light burning and I had a small folded towel over his eyes.
Upon our arrival at the hospital, we were taken to an isolation room. As the ambulance attendant lifted my son onto the bed, the large blister on his face, a hanging sac of sloshing fluid broke.
Now, lying naked on the sterile sheets, coughing and choking, his body a mass of blisters and skinless places, he looked like someone wearing an ugly mask. I wanted to cry out, “No! No!” But I prayed that for my son’s sake my voice would be calm.
Nothing could have torn me away from my son at this time; so I was given a hospital gown and a mask. The next few days were crucial ones. Large areas of skin that had gone dark and looked as if they were scalded, pushed off from George’s back and he stuck to the sheets. The skin, pushed up on his upper arm, looked like a wrinkled nylon stocking. George’s mouth and throat were blistered, as well as the bronchial tubes, and he was coughing constantly. I covered my face, put my head on the windowsill and fought the tears.
The eye doctor said the eyes were blistered, even on the cornea, and added, “If he comes along—we may not be able to save his eyes.” It came to me that my son might be blind!
A new nurse coming in to put drops in George’s eyes, leaned over him and said, “George, I have something to put in your eyes. Can you turn your head this way?” She leaned over, and as he turned his face with it’s black rimmed hole for a mouth, one side of his face practically skinless, and skinless ears—all this was too much for this nurse. She became nauseous, gagged and hurriedly left the room.
One night, two couples were standing in the hall. One of the men looked in at George and gasped. When his wife stepped over to where he was standing, he led her away, remarking, “You do not want to see that.”
Each time the doctor entered the room, he would greet my son with, “How are you George?” George would answer, “Pretty good.” Always pretty good. At one time the doctor looked at him and said, “You are a game little guy!” There were tears in his eyes.
He asked me if I was praying. I assured him I was. He also asked if his name could be put in the temple so those who were there could pray for him.
One evening, the young doctor gravely told me things were not going well and that he had done all that he could. At that moment I felt desperately alone; what could I do except go to God for help? I returned to the room and knelt beside my son’s bed and pleaded with God to let him live.
The next day, George asked, “Are they still praying for me?” I said, “Oh, yes. We surely are son.” Then he asked me if I’d hold his hand. He said, “If you don’t mind holding a scratchy one.” All day I held his hand. By evening I sensed a calmness come over him. I said, “Doctor, I think he is better!” The doctor examined him, turned to me and with a look of almost disbelief and surprise said, “I think he is!” The crisis had passed.
The miraculous powers of the body to heal took over. New skin began to grow and the old skin sloughed off. All twenty of his fingernails and toenails came off.
Suddenly we were aware that it was Christmas Eve. Kind nurses and Santa himself came to where a brave young boy with a blotched and burned looking body sat in the bed. By tipping his head back, he saw through slits of eyes a Christmas bouquet and said, “I can see! I can see!” At that moment I was humbled beyond words.
The young doctor came into the room and said, “George, you have made medical history.” Then he asked if we minded the case being written for the medical journals. I tried to thank our tall young doctor. He said humbly, “I just stood by.” But I knew he had worked valiantly to save my son.
Our family doctor came into the room and said, “George, you are a walking miracle.” The nurses, who came to say good-bye to us, said that no one in the hospital expected to see our son go out of the hospital alive. The eye doctor said, “I feel so humble about this boy. It certainly has made me a believer.”
At this unforgettable Christmas time I realized that, to me, Christmas would forever be a time of rejoicing; rejoicing for the gift of a son.” (Opal H. Clarke, “Don’t Let Him Die”)
This young man grew to adulthood but his body didn’t completely heal. His eyes are constantly red because his tear glands were destroyed and he has to use artificial tears. He coughs frequently and has a raspy sound when he breathes because he has Chronic Bronchitis. This faithful man, George Amos Clarke, my sweetheart and husband, was grateful for a miracle.
I love singing songs and reading poetry about Christmas. It always gets me in the mood of the holiday. One day, a few years ago, I decided it was time to contribute to the season. Since I couldn’t compose a Christmas song, I thought I would try writing a poem. So here goes! I hope you enjoy an amateur’s hand at poetry.
THE BEST GIFT OF ALL
What is the greatest gift of all?
Is it the charity of a neighbor…
giving a helping hand to someone?
How about a listening ear
to someone who is mourning…
Or service generously done?
I have received many gifts,
but the best gift of all
is the birth of a small child.
This birth would change
the world forever,
the birth of a baby, so mild.
As I think of all the gifts I desire most,
Jesus has given me the greatest,
as I recall.
For our Savior was born in a manger,
He suffered in Gethsemane,
and died on a cross for us all.
When I think of this wonderful gift
he has given to me,
my heart swells with love.
And I think that I couldn’t want
a greater gift than this…
the Savior’s gift from above.
—Linda Weaver Clarke