The Interim recognizes that our readers know the true meaning of Christmas and that we all cherish the time we spend with loved ones during this holy season. In that spirit, we asked several pro-life leaders to share with us their Christmas traditions and memories.
Jakki Jeffs, executive director of Alliance for Life (Ontario), said that for her family, there was Advent and then there was Christmas. The day before Christmas the family would decorate the room that “we would hardly be in the rest of the year,” with large swaths of trailing crepe paper. “It wasn’t Christmas until I laid down with my father on the floor looking up at the roof at this marvelous, simple thing we just created.” She recalls it looking like a spider’s web, hung with silver tinsel. Jeffs added that gifts were left in a pillow slip and that her mother would fret about black smudges, deliberately left on them by her father who put his hand into the chimney to sully the white cloth. Her mother threatened that they would not put out their pillow slips if there was a mark on them again, but mother’s concerns about dirty pillow cases abetted when she found white washing powder in hers. “But we fell for it every year.”
David Mainse, host of 100 Huntley Street and founder of Crossroads Television System, and his wife Norma-Jean celebrated at Norma-Jean’s ancestral farmhouse. “I read the Christmas story and then we prayed,” said David Mainse. Before opening their presents to each other, “We focus on God’s present of his Son, our Saviour.” They also sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Norma-Jean was pleased to report that their grown children had so ingrained the meaning of Christmas, they have continued the tradition in their own homes before joining their parents for Christmas dinner at the farmhouse near Brantford, Ont.
Rev. Ken Campbell of Tumbler Ridge, B.C., fondly recalls celebrating Christmas in his childhood in Hagersville when his father, Robert D. Campbell, farmed to support his family while he ministered at Bethany Bible Mission on the Six Nations reserve. “We had presents but there was no rush to the tree,” Campbell said. “There were Scripture readings and prayer thanking God for the greatest gift, His Son.” Rev. Campbell noted that he would not be a minister today were it not for the “wonderful example” of his father, who took the family to “amazing celebrations with the congregations on the reserve.”
Ted Byfield, founder of Alberta Report, B.C. Report and Western Report magazines, directed us to an article written several years ago by Ken Whyte in the pages of Saturday Night. Whyte, a former employee in the Byfield media empire, reported, “Around 11 p.m. every Boxing Day from the top of his stairs in his west Edmonton home, Ted Byfield makes a makeshift choir of relatives, friends, and employees rip into that medieval favourite, The Boars Head, as “the front doors of the house burst open and more relatives, friends and employees rush into the crowded living room carrying” a pig’s head on a platter. Byfield noted that his singing was not as bad as Whyte made it out to be.
Elsie Wayne, Progressive Conservative MP from Saint John, N.B. and Parliamentary Pro-life Caucus co-chair, said she loves the Christmas season, in part because she so loves the Christmas carols. More than a month before Christmas day, she is playing Christmas tapes in the car and records at home. When the family gets together to celebrate Christmas day, her husband plays the trumpet and her granddaughter, at least until she moved, played the piano. Wayne’s favourite Christmas songs are Silent Night and White Christmas.
Music also played a central role in Fr. Ted Colleton’s recollection of an important Christmas moment. Fr. Ted, beloved Interim columnist, said the “reality of Christmas struck me in a special way, for the first time” as he sat in a “church in Kenya, and listened to the African children’s choir singing Silent Night in their own language.” At that moment, ” in a way which words cannot describe, I realized – perhaps for the first time – that this beautiful hymn was being sung in every language in the world, to celebrate the birthday of a Baby, who was born in a stable and laid in a manger almost 2,000 years before.”
This caused Fr. Ted to ask himself “the question, which has rung down the ages since: can He be less than God?”