This small ribbon of plastic is known as a Talkie Tape. It has tiny ridges and grooves that cause vibrations when you run your fingernail along it. It’s a bit like an old phonograph cylinder. The best part is that it only works if you bite one end of the ribbon between your teeth while running your fingernail along the grooves. The result is that you hear a voice inside your head say, “Merry Christmas.” The message is only heard in your own head as the vibrations echo through the bones in your jaw.
To me it really represents that Christmas is a personal thing. Different things bring the Christmas spirit into the heart of each individual. For some it’s the lights and decorations and putting up the tree. For others it’s the joy of secretly blessing the lives of others. Some love the sight of a quiet snowfall or watching their favorite Christmas movie.
This principle was shown to me very clearly on a Christmas Eve in 2000. I was a missionary in McAllen, Texas. It was Sunday and I was at church. During one of the Christmas hymns I noticed that the elderly woman sitting next to me didn’t have a hymn book, so I offered her mine. She replied, “Brother, I don’t know how to read, so I just listen.”
As we sang Silent Night I watched as tears silently traced lines down her cheeks. I could see her filled with the joy of Christmas.
On this beautiful Christmas morning I pray that all of us may be filled with the joy of Christmas – the joy that comes from remembering the perfect love of our Father in Heaven as He sent His Son. A matchless gift that for each and every one of us.
As a scientist I love learning about some of the crazy quack medicines out there. One interesting bit of quack history is this “Memorandum and Account Book” put out by R.V. Pierce, one of history’s patent medicine gurus. It was designed as a clever advertising gimmick. It has pages set aside for notes or as an account ledger, but interspersed within are pages full of advertising for Pierce’s quack tonics as well as “testimonials” of the wonders he had performed.
The cool part about this book is that someone actually used this copy – it’s filled with carefully handwritten notes as well as a few mementos, such as a thin sheet of mica someone tucked into the pages for safekeeping. Most of the notes aren’t anything out of the ordinary, just records of lumber purchased or where and when sheep were put out to pasture, but they span the years from 1877 to 1884. They are the daily ins and outs of someone’s life, despite the pages of blatant advertising.
It seems to me that my experiences of Christmas seem to be very similar. There is a lot of rampant commercialism, along with the craziness of the season – the hectic schedules, the last minute changes in plans and trips to the store for batteries. And yet interspersed between all of that are the special memories – racing away from a neighbor’s door after secretly dropping off gifts, the joy on my daughter’s face the first time she saw us turn on the Christmas lights, the Christmas Eves spent gathered at my grandparents’ house playing games and laughing with family, the baptism of the Bonilla family on Christmas Eve at a little chapel in McAllen, my first Christmas with my amazing wife.
My Christmases through the years have been filled with love and joy, tears and laughter. There have been times when I have been far too consumed with consumerism, but there have also been sacred times when I have been privileged to feel the true spirit of Christmas. For all those times and all those memories, I thank all of you who have filled the pages of my life. Merry Christmas!