Short and Sweet: A Belgian Christmas Card Speaks

Baby Jesus and his mother Mary are the focus of the beautiful Christmas story in scripture. In a typical nativity scene, by Mary’s side is Joseph and then in a widening circle shepherds and wise men (an anachronism, for they came much later in the story) and assorted stable animals. Interestingly, Mary is the only woman pictured in the scene.

Recently, I pulled out a box of tiny Christmas greeting cards printed in Belgium from one of the drawers in Mother’s dining room buffet. Here, two female figures dominate the drawing, one an angel with tiny wings in sandals and the other an inquisitive little girl. But the Bethlehem stable with the brilliant star overhead is obviously the topic of their conversation.

Little Angel Watching_card

I imagine their dialogue might mimic the lyrics of the carolDo You Hear What I Hear?”

Little Girl: What’s going on here? Why is there a dazzling star just above the manger?

Angel: A special baby has been born tonight.

Little Girl: What is his name?

Angel: His name is Emmanuel, God with us.

Little Girl: Who else is in the stable with the baby and his mother?

Angel:  Standing right by Mary is Joseph, who will help take care of Him until he grows up.There are shepherds who were told by other angels appearing in the sky to find the baby Jesus in a manger. These angels told them such great news that they left their sheep to see the wonderful sight.

Little Girl: I want to go to the manger too. Will you come with me now?

* * *

Do You See What I See? Part 1Do Hear What I Hear?  Part 2

Bell

Whatever your beliefs, the cards and carols of this season call us all to listen with the third ear, that inner sense where the possibility for hope and joy reside. These twin themes resonate in so much of the music we hear:

  • I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, cited in a recent blog post
  • Do you Hear What I Hear?  (See . . . Hear . . . Know . . . Listen)

And finally the narrator’s last lines in The Polar Express:

At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell. But as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found, one Christmas, that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I have grown old, the bell still rings for me. As it does for all who truly believe.

 

 

What story or song this season has special meaning for you?

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39 thoughts on “Short and Sweet: A Belgian Christmas Card Speaks

  1. Another lovely post, Marian. I’m enjoying all these treasures reminiscent of your mother. My favorite Christmas songs are O Holy Night and Mary, Did You Know? Christmas Blessings and Hugs to you and yours!

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    1. I heard Mary Did You Know? yesterday and it struck such a warm and nostalgic note. O Holy Night is a carol with such a mighty message too. Once I heard it sung at a friend’s funeral in August because it was one of his favorite songs. The audience joined in heartily even though it was a hot summer day in Florida. Christmas blessings to your family too!

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  2. Both daughters were in the madrigal singing group when they were in high school. I used to love those concerts. There are so many beautiful Christmas carols–I’m not sure that I have a favorite. I always think of the “In Excelsis Deo” episode of “The West Wing” when I hear “The Little Drummer Boy.” It’s one of my favorite episodes, and it’s very moving.

    As for the bell, in sharing your thoughts and memories in bloggerland, you bring to life John Donne’s “No man is an island,”–the bell tolls for all of us.
    Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas!

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    1. Thank you for jogging my memory about the John Donne quote and then adding something new (for me anyway), the “In Excelsis Deo” episode of The West Wing. Your comments, especially the allusions, always appreciated. Hope your family is enjoying a delightful Hanukkah celebration, Merril.

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  3. Just beautiful Marian thank you. May the bell always be heard, even for those who don’t hear its music. I am *starring* this post because on Christmas Day I want to show the card of the little girls, and read the poem. Thank you ….

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      1. At the table on Christmas Day when my two sons will be present, husband and brother. I plan also to read the Luke verses you said about in earlier post. My family enjoy the levity … among the joy.

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  4. Marian, you manage to do something few people can do — speak out about your own personal faith and include people of different faiths and other faiths also. You show us the feminine face of God without denigrating the masculine. You bring in classic texts both sacred and secular.

    So many people think we have to choose between one or the other.

    You show us that curiosity, memory, connection to child-like wonder will keep the message of this season alive in us. Each one of your posts is a beacon of light in a dark world. We feel a holy spirit as we read.

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. Oh, Karen, I am so happy to see you here. Two grand-boys will appear in a few hours, so I need a little down time. Listening to the choir sing sounds like just the perfect fix. Thanks for thinking of me and supplying the link. Merry Christmas to you and Mr. U!

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  5. Marian — I loved reading this heart-based post, and especially enjoyed the Belgian card that you featured.

    The song that brings tears to my eyes during the holiday season is SILVER BELLS. Not because it has a lovely message to share, but because my mom and I used to sing it together: me melody, her harmony. Singing it alone just isn’t the same without her beautiful voice adding to the richness.

    I think of you this Christmas — the first one without your own mother — and feel you know that certain emptiness that only a mother can fill.

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    1. Bells are resonant, so appealing! (Couldn’t resist the pun!) I suppose that’s another reason I like that image especially at Christmas time. Thank you for adding another “bell” song to the repertoire. May its melody and harmony, like you and your mother’s, continue to chime in both our hearts this season.

      My family and friends like you are helping to fill the emptiness of this first season without Mother. Thank you always for caring.

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  6. “Listening with the ear of the heart,” is part of The Rule of Benedict, and is an activity I feel you able to share with us in all your posts. Blessings to you and your family and to all your readers, in whose replies I find many blessings.

    I am listening today with my heart’s ear this Saturday before Christmas. My family gathering is quite small this year–only three of us. Our daughter is in California, home from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. Our son is in Helsinki (Finland) until the end of April, so we can only skype with him. My childhood family is getting together in Illinois and Wisconsin. Dave’s childhood family is gathering in Austin, Texas.

    We three plan to spend Christmas eve and day in our Mediterranean climate, near the ocean, and overnights at a hostel with Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus in whatever form they appear.

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    1. It’s interesting how your family is gathering and connecting from various points on the globe. Christmas is a time for paying attention and listening as you wisely point out. I had not heard of the Rule of Benedict which of course resonates with me. Thank you, Dolores.

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  7. What a beautiful card and post. Their dialogue captures that magic moment. I love the song and the quote from The Polar Express. It’s a beautiful message filled with hope, love and peace. Blessings to you and your family, Marian. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to your and yours. 😉

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  8. Lovely Belgian card from the drawer of your mother’s buffet. I love the conversation between the two figures depicted on the card. It really comes to life joyfully through the eyes of children. The visual and the sound of the bell evoke the magic of Christmas. I’m writing tomorrow about one hymn that is not a Christmas carol, but stirs my Christmas spirit and brings me to the piano at Christmas. Happy Christmas week to you and yours, Marian.

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  9. Our favorite reading is the Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt. If my life is a reflection of God’s power he will never let us go. Silent Night is our favorite Christmas song. This is a hard year without Mom. My son wants to keep her memories alive and asked me to bring her chocolate coffee frosting cake when we gather at his house Christmas Eve and we’re to play hand and foot. Such great memories. I love your posts where you bring all things together. May you and your family have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Love you all
    Gloria and family

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    1. I miss Mother’s Saturday morning calls and of course there is no Christmas card from her this year. It helps talking to family right now and doing things for others, carrying on the traditions as you are doing. Mom loved chocolate, and playing Hand and Foot would be right down her alley. Precious memories, a good reminder to celebrate and not just mourn!

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  10. The one song that captures the darker side of Christmas for me ,and lets face it there is a darker side, is ‘The Fairy Tale of New York ‘ by The wonderful Pogues and , sadly missed , Kirsty MacColl . I only have to hear a few notes at the beginning and I’m dancing around the coffee table .
    I also love to hear the first carol song on Christmas Eve from ‘Kings College Cambridge ‘Once in Royal David’s City ‘…it’s a British thing .
    Cherryx

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    1. I love your “British things” Cherry. The strains of Once in Royal Dvid’s City is a favorite carol song for me too. But it has to be from Kings College Cambridge to be perfect. I’ll have to check out YouTube for the other tunes you mention. I should know what makes you dance around the coffee table – right!? Always nice to meet you here.

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  11. Marian, my grandmother’s foster sister gave this very same card to her! We found it in Grandma’s box of keepsakes, and inside was tucked a little crocheted cross bookmark. The message was something like, “Letta (my grandmother’s name) what do you think their conversation is to each other?”
    And now to read your lines is so much fun.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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    1. Amazing how your story dovetails with mine. “Serendipitous” would be the right word for it, I believe. I’m so glad you commented today. Somehow the two conversations separated by time make the card come alive in a special way. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Marylin.

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