Do You Hear What I Hear?


Christmas, what does it mean? To some it means shopping and buying gifts. They spend hours looking for those special gifts for mom and dad, the children, friends, the boss and select acquaintances. Shopping adds to the stress we feel. It gives us extra things to do.

We have parties to attend. We have to prepare for relatives who are coming to town to visit. We try to bring our workloads up to date so we can take some time off for Christmas. We hurry off to visit friends or family in other cities or states. Or we head off to that special holiday vacation.

For children it’s exciting. They have waited all year long for this time of the year. They have been hinting all year about that special thing they want for Christmas. And then there are those kids who are just hoping to get anything for Christmas. Those kids who worry that Santa Claus will not bring them anything at all.

When I was a kid my mother would have us go to bed early on Christmas Eve. She said we had to be asleep when Santa came or he would throw ashes in our eyes. When I was older I realized she just wanted us to go to sleep so she could get the presents set under the Christmas tree. She would also set a glass of milk and a piece of chocolate cake, on a saucer, on the kitchen table for Santa. The next morning the presents would be under the Christmas tree. The cake and milk were gone, presumably eaten by Santa.

All these thoughts rushed through my mind here at the Atlanta Federal Prison Work Camp as I gazed at the small Christmas tree that has been erected in our dormitory. Of course my day is not as hectic as yours. I get up about 5:30 a.m., shower and shave, read and spend quality time reading the Bible and getting dressed. Some inmates eat breakfast but I choose not to. At 8 a.m. we inmates check in with the Officer in Charge and then we do minor chores around the compound. Nothing time-consuming or strenuous. We have a midday meal around 10:30 a.m. The next meal is dinner at 5 p.m. The rest of the day, between meals, is spent reading or just lounging around. I check emails throughout the day or read mail. Pretty boring stuff.

But the slower pace made me think about what Christmas really means. It’s a birthday celebration. And whose birthday is it? The birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus! This is confirmed in Matthew 1:18-21. The birth of Jesus took place this way:

When his mother, Mary, had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with the child of the Holy Spirit; And her husband Joseph being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame resolved to send her away quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David do not fear to take in Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; She shall bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” 

So on Christmas Eve night, look to the sky and remember what it’s all about. For me, it’s best captured in a song I remember being sung by Andy Williams:

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite.
With a tail as big as a kite. 

This star led the three wise men to the baby Jesus as he slept in his bed in the manger. The song continues:

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold.
Let us bring Him silver and gold.
Let us bring Him silver and gold,

So it’s ok to give gifts. But please don’t forget the true meaning of Christmas. The birth of the baby Jesus. And don’t forget the kids in your town who will not get any gifts. Please have mercy and charity. Remember the king’s proclamation in the song:

Said the king to the people everywhere,
Listen to what I say.
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
Listen to what I say.
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light.
He will bring us goodness and light.

God bless you and may all of you have a safe and very merry Christmas. Be a source of “goodness and light” to someone this Christmas.

Bernard Addison is serving 46 months for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. Questions or comments can be sent to or to:

Bernard Addison/ 44863-074/ FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D/ P.O. Box 150160/ Atlanta, GA 30315


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