Our Village Christmas Stories by Kathleen McAnear Smith


My daughter and her family have recently relocated from London to Suffolk. They’ve moved into a little village called Hoxne, which is pronounced “Hox-in,” for those in the know. It has a traditional English green surrounded by lovely old houses. There is an ancient church and a pub with seriously good food. At Christmas, the trees on the small green are decorated with magical lights and the doors of the homes show a variety of wreaths, the windows shining with candles on a dark night. Carols will be sung.But what is unique about this village is what is happening inside the small post office, which is also the village shop.

You see, what is happening in the post office could only happen in a village where people know and trust each other. When my daughter moved in to the house just doors up from the post office, she was instructed by the post mistress that all the parents in the village traditionally bring the presents they have for their children to the post office by Christmas Eve. For several days now, parents have been figuring out how they can get their labelled presents to the post office without the kids knowing. 

The tradition goes something like this: on Christmas Day, Father Christmas will arrive on the village green VERY early in the morning and then go house to house delivering the gifts to over excited children. Believe me when I say that no matter how early Father Christmas arrives, little noses will be pressed against front room windows. They will always remember this story.

Down the European road in another village; this time in Germany, another small village tradition is going on this week. It seems in the middle of their village green a very large Christmas Tree will be placed and trimmed with an amazing array of lights and candles. Surrounding the big tree will be the local volunteer firemen, selling smaller trees as a fund raiser. Every year villagers go to the tree sale and select the tree to be put up in their homes. Apparently most of the people in this village do not see a need to own cars, and yet no one needs to drag a tree back to their door. Much to the delight of the children in this village, the firemen deliver the trees in their fire trucks. Nothing quite like a fireman arriving at your door and coming into the house to put up the tree. 

In a time of so many bad news stories, it has struck me that just hearing stories of small village life, stories of good will that delight the children has warmed my heart. If anyone in ACW would like to send me your village Christmas story, something unique to your community, I’d love to start collecting the small stories with big hearts and perhaps have them published. Perhaps these stories will encourage someone somewhere. Small village life is not dead, and there are communities who work together to create good childhood memories. 

Of course, the greatest story is the birth of Jesus. In my grandsons new school they faithfully tell the story. One grandson will be Joseph this year and another will be a king. I am thankful they are being taught a true story, filled with the meaning of our celebration. My sister in law isn’t so sure about the script development in her grandchildren’s school. While she is not a believer, she does like a good story. “But,” she sighed, “For some reason the teacher has tried to improve on tradition and added updated characters. Can you tell me how aliens fit in with this story?” 

Not really. 

Father God, I pray that over this Christmas holiday we take time to listen to each other’s stories. May we listen as an uncle tells a story one more time, a grandmother forgets a punch line, a child tells a story slowly. Above all may we listen to your story, and listen well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Kathleen has recently joined the Board of Directors for Families in Global Transition, a community of expats living all over the world. Her first book is “Parents on the Move!” Her second book, “Beyond Broken Families” is finally on Amazon thanks to the support of Wendy H Jones and other friends at ACW. Her new website “Global Grandmas” should be live sometime in early January. Here’s hoping!

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