by C.C. Elfstrom Most times, I live a fairly simple life with my feet planted safely in the ground.  Ivy, who is my best friend,  sits quietly nearby.   But with all the activity going on around us, we are never, ever bored!  We always like to see the Little Flying Ones who are so busy and serious.  But perhaps our favorite visitor is the Nightingale.  He comes to sit with us and sings the most  beautiful songs.  At first, Ivy and I wished we could join in, but he assured us that we encourage him in important ways, too.

Of course, there are the occasional times, as I'm sure you will understand, when my days aren't as simple and I need to be a bit more brave.  Times when the weather changes and the wind blows hard and very cold.  I heard one of the Walking Ones say they call it "wintertime."  That's when most of my friends go away for a while or decide to go to sleep.  But, even during this time, Ivy and I always want to stay awake.  And even though these days are much more of a challenge, this is also the time that makes me the happiest!

One day I was thinking about how odd it is that I feel cheerful in wintertime when it's also a time that is harder for me.  And then, just as I was wondering about this, my Father began to tell me something that made me even more curious.  He said that the things I enjoy doing are the things I am meant to do.  And He said my story connects to His in a unique way.  This sounded encouraging, and even intriguing, but, truthfully, I didn't understand it.

He told me about a night a long time ago when His Son was born.  But I was confused.  I said  I thought I was His son.  He gently explained to me that I didn't have it quite right.  He said that He created all things, and that He was the Father of all.  But He told me that His children (who I know as the Walking Ones) are the ones who the Son is most like, but that the Son is even unlike them.  I didn't think I would ever understand this.  But then  He explained that His Son is most like Himself.  I liked hearing  this, but I still didn't know what it meant about me and who I was.

He said there are nights of celebration that honor the birth of His Son.  Nights of great joy and gladness.  Nights when there are symbols of beauty when I would have a special part to play.  This sounded quite remarkable, but I certainly didn't know how I would be able to do such a thing.  He told me to simply wait and that I would be called.

Then, a little while ago, on a very cold day, two of the Walking Ones came toward me.  They looked to be a mother and child and seemed quite pleasant as I saw them approaching.  I heard the smaller one say, "Oh, look, how beautiful that is.  So perfect for our home!"

I had no idea what she meant.  But then she came closer and even closer.  I soon felt a little pinch.   Then I noticed that I was somewhat smaller!  And yet, oddly, I also felt fine.  Besides, I liked seeing her so happy.

I heard the mother say, "Isn't it good of God to allow the Holly and the Ivy to remain green, even in the winter?  The Holly will bring such cheer into our home on Christmas Day!  And the Ivy will be perfect for me to weave a lovely wreath for our front door."

Then she said, "You know, sometimes the beauty of God's creation speaks to us in a way that nothing else could.  These are symbols of God's love for us."

The young one asked, "Do you think that the dear animals were really with Jesus when He was born?"

"Well, it might have been very nice if they were," said the mother.  "I believe all members of creation have their parts to play."

That was when I knew she must know my Father.  She was saying what my Father had told me.  Then the mother put her arm around her child and started to sing a lovely song.  It started with the words "the first Noel."  Then the little one joined in.  As I listened, I realized the story in the song was the same one my Father had told to me.  The one about the special night when His Son was born.

Ivy and I agreed that it was, indeed, a very beautiful song.  There was even something about the singing that reminded us of the Nightingale.

As the mother and child started to walk away, they suddenly turned  to Ivy and me, smiling, and called out to us in cheery voices,  "God bless us, every one!"

That is when I learned more deeply what my Father was trying to tell me.  My friend, Ivy, and I were bringing joy to these other ones, the children our Father loves so very much.  It made me glad to know this.  And now I can't wait to share all that I have learned with my Nightingale friend.   (Perhaps, when he returns, he will have tales of his adventures to tell me, too.)

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