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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Christmas With George Washington

Christmas was primarily a religious holiday in 18th century Virginia, described by one colonist in 1774 as “the day set apart to remember the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” It was also, however, a festive occasion marked by visits between friends and relatives, parties, and public assemblies.

Christianity played a part in the observance of the holiday at Mount Vernon, for the Washingtons often attended church on Christmas day. In 1770, Christmas was on a Tuesday and after going to nearby Pohick Church in the morning, the family returned to Mount Vernon for dinner. Similar patterns were followed in other years.

While they preferred to spend the holiday with family and friends, George and Martha Washington themselves were seldom the guests of others at Christmas.
Houseguests, generally close friends and relatives, frequently came to Mount Vernon for several days at a time around Christmas.

Eighteenth century meals always appear bountiful to twentieth century eyes and there is no reason to suspect that those at Christmas were any different from others in the quantity of foods displayed. There are, unfortunately, no descriptions of a Christmas dinner at Mount Vernon and only a few indications of foods associated with this season. One dish known to have been served regularly was Christmas pie. Another food associated with the Christmas season were large cakes, which were often specially decorated for Twelfth Night. Other Virginians are known to have celebrated the traditional end of the holiday with these cakes and there is indirect evidence for such a practice at Mount Vernon.

George Washington’s military and political duties took him to other parts of the country, where different local customs regarding holiday gift-giving appear to have been taken into consideration. His first two Christmases as president were spent in New York, where Dutch influences were strong and New Year’s day was traditionally celebrated with special food and drink.

Many of the things twentieth century Americans expect to find at Christmas are of Germanic origin and were unknown to the residents of Mount Vernon. Williamsburg did not receive its first Christmas tree until 1842, when a German faculty member at the College of William and Mary set one up. Stockings filled with “good & useful [sic] things” were part of the Dutch Saint Nicholas Day celebration in New York, but were not part of the tradition in Anglican and Quaker sections of the country. The Christmas holidays at Mount Vernon were, however, a happy time, bringing together family and friends, good food, and freedom from work. One could hardly want for more.

Adapted from Mount Vernon. . . .

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Famous Quotes From “A Christmas Carol”

christmas-carol-dvdcover“‘Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing his 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!'”
(Jacob Marley)

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.
The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.
I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
(Ebenezer Scrooge)

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843

A Christmas Prayer Of Thanks

Quoting Max Lucado

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to earth as a baby so many years ago. Thank you that He paid the punishment for my sins by dying on the cross. And thank you that He rose again to prove that death was truly defeated. I place my trust in You to be my Savior. Guide me through the dark times of my life and give me courage this Christmas to live for You. Amen

A Royal Visit

300px-anonymous_18th_century_birth_of_christQuoting Philip Yancey:

In London, looking toward the auditorium’s royal box where the queen and her family sat, I caught glimpses of the…way rulers stride through the world: with bodyguards, and a trumpet fanfare and a flourish of bright clothes and flashing jewelry.

Queen Elizabeth II had recently visited the United States, and reporters delighted in spelling out the logistics involved: her four thousand pounds of luggage included two outfits for every occasion, a mourning outfit in case someone died, forty pints of plasma, and white kid-leather toilet seat covers. She brought along her own hairdresser, two valets, and a host of other attendants. A brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can easily cost twenty million dollars.

In meek contrast, God’s visit to earth took place in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the newborn king but a feed trough. Indeed, the event that divided history, and even our calendars, into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on Him. (The Jesus I Never Knew, Zondervan, 1995)

“Christmas Pipes”

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy-the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)

Celtic Woman

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