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By Gudrun Schultz

My most beautiful memory of Christmas is also one of my earliest memories. I was four. My family was small back then, just my parents, two sisters, and me. We lived on an isolated farm in the Quebec woods, and I spent my days playing with my sisters and taking care of a family of dolls.

I don’t remember the Christmas preparations that must have gone on that year, but on Christmas eve, when it came time for my Dad to do the barn chores in the evening, we all got dressed up in our winter coats and went out with him in the dark, following his lantern down the path to the barn.

It was small and dark, with just a few cows and some chickens on a roost in the corner. My father hung the red lantern on a nail and began to milk, and Mom explained that it was Christmas, the night of Christ’s birth, and we were going to read the story of the Nativity. She leaned on the wooden grain bin and read from the children’s bible, and I watched the cows eating their hay in the mangers, and could see how comfortable the Baby would be there, warm with all these good cows around.

Afterward we went back to the house and celebrated with a feast, my parents laughing, in their best clothes, and I understood clearly what a beautiful thing this Nativity was, that it could turn ordinary life into such a thing of mystery and joy.

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