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Posted by Rebecca on December 24, 1999 at 10:17:48:

Wishing ALL of you peace, health and happiness!!


Also, here is a touching Christmas story that was sent to me by a good friend:

In the very early 1800's, a young boy about 14 years
old named John lived in an orphanage in Old England
along with several other children. Orphanages were
dreaded. Orphan meant unwanted and unloved. The
orphanage was administered by a master and his wife who
were results of meager backgrounds themselves and were
short on love but high on discipline. No childlike
play, no expression of compassion, no understanding.

Every day of the year was spent working. They worked in
gardens, cleaned, sewed, and cooked sometimes for
wealthy children. They were up at dawn and worked until
dark and usually received only one meal a day. However,
they were very grateful because they were taught to be
hard workers. John had absolutely nothing to call his
own. None of the children did.

Christmas was the one day of the year when the children
did not work and received a gift. A gift for each child
- something to call their own.
This special gift was an orange. John had been in the
orphanage long enough to look forward with delight and
anticipation of this special day of Christmas and to
the orange he would receive. In Old England, and to
John and his orphan companions, an orange was a rare
and special gift. It had an unusual aroma of something
they smelled only at Christmas. The children prized it
so much that they kept it for several days, weeks, and
even months - protecting it, smelling it, touching it
and loving it. Usually they tried to savor and
preserve it for so long that it often rotted before
they ever peeled it to enjoy the sweet juice.
Many thought were expressed this year as Christmas time
approached. The children would say, "I will keep mine
the longest." They always talked about how big their
last orange was and how long they had kept it.
John usually slept with his next to his pillow. He
would put it right by his nose and smell of its
goodness, holding it tenderly and carefully as not to
bruise it. He would dream of children all over the
world smelling the sweet aroma of oranges. It gave him
security and a sense of well being, hope and dreams of
a future filled with good food and a life different
from this meager existence.

This year John was overjoyed by the Christmas season.
He was becoming a man. He knew he was becoming stronger
and soon he would be old enough to leave.
He was excited by this anticipation and excited about Christmas.
He would save his orange until his birthday in July.
If he preserved it very carefully, kept it cool and
did not drop it, he might be able to eat it on his birthday.
Christmas day finally came. The children were so
excited as they entered the big dining hall. John could
smell the unusual aroma of meat. In his excitement and
because of his oversized feet, he tripped, causing a
disturbance. Immediately the master roared, "John, leave
the hall and there will be no orange for you this
year." John's heart broke violently wide open. He began
to cry. He turned and went swiftly back to the cold
room and his corner so the small children would not see
his anguish.
Then he heard the door open and each of the children
entered. Little Elizabeth with her hair falling over
her shoulders, a smile on her face, and tears in her
eyes held out a piece of rag to John. "Here John," she
said, "this is for you." John was touched by her youth
and innocence as he reached for the bulge in her hand.
As he lifted back the edges of the rag he saw a big
juicy orange all peeled and quartered. . . and then he
realized what they had done. Each had sacrificed their
own orange by sharing a quarter and had created a big,
beautiful orange for John.
John never forgot the sharing, love and personal
sacrifice his friends had shown him that Christmas day.
John's beginning was a meager existence, however, his
growth to manhood was rewarded by wealth and success.
In memory of that day every year he would send oranges
all over the world to children everywhere. His desire
was that no child would ever spend Christmas without a
special Christmas fruit!

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