Friday, November 20, 2015

Our Family Christmas Traditions #1

With the holidays upon us, I would like to share some of the traditions we have in our family, most of them since my husband and I were a young married couple with young children.  I will post one tradition at a time and hope you enjoy them!  Some are sweet, cherished traditions and a few are just plain fun (bordering on silly).

I don't recall where I found this book or how I came upon it.  It is possible that we might have watched the TV movie version of this story from 1985 (wow, did I just admit I watched a show  that was broadcast 30 years ago?  Ugh...).  

This book has been a part of our Christmas Eve ritual.  Our family gathers together, piles into our car (now plural--cars) and we listen to Christmas music as we drive through our small town, admiring the Christmas lights and decorations.  Once we return home, each child/grandchild chooses one gift to open and there is always another one they have to open--new pajamas!

After those gifts have been opened, everyone gathers together to listen to Mom (that would be me) read Henry Van Dyke's The Other Wiseman.  I have also seen copies of this book called The Fourth Wiseman but our book is as the photo represents.  It is a short story, perhaps no more than 5 or 6 minutes but has a wonderful meaning and moral to it--by helping and serving others, we serve God and Jesus. 

Artaban is a magi, who gathers four precious gifts to take to the Christ child.  As he hurries to meet the other Magi and seeks the Child, he encounters others who are in need of assistance.  Each time Artaban unselfishly uses one of his precious gifts (such as a gem) to give assistance to a stranger.

  After 33 years of searching, Artaban learns that Jesus is in Jerusalem and that he is to be crucified.  Artaban rushes to try to barter for Christ's life with his last gift, a pearl.  He encounters a young woman who is to be sold into slavery as payment for family debt.  She begs Artaban to help her.  He buys the woman's freedom with the pearl and realizes he has missed the opportunity to meet Jesus and perhaps save Jesus's life.  A terrible shaking of the earth occurs (as the Crucifixion has occurred) and a tile from a building crushes Artaban.  As he lays dying, he laments his failure to meet Jesus.   

Artaban hears a voice tell him "Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me."(Matthew 25:40)  Artaban dies in peace and joy, as he understands that his treasures were accepted, and the Other Wise Man has found his King.

Just FYI, I start to choke up with emotion about the time I read that Artaban is willing to trade his last remaining gift for a stranger's freedom.  Some years I have to hand the book to someone else to finish and some years I get through it.

The Other Wiseman can be purchased online at retailers such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble or you can check a nearby brick and mortar store.  Our family looks forward to our Christmas Traditions and I hope you have enjoyed reading about this one.  We have more to share over the next few weeks so stay tuned!

Comment below if you have a favorite Christmas book, scripture, or story to tell!

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