On Christmas Day, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We decorate our homes with Christmas lights, Christmas trees with ornaments on every branch, yards and yards of garland, festively wrapped packages with ribbons and bows, holiday scented candles and a plethora of bright and shiny objects which evoke fond memories of years gone by and which build new memories. We eat turkey, ham, a variety of casseroles, baked rolls, various vegetables and then we gorge ourselves with pies, cookies, fudge and other delights.
We certainly eat more food than is our usual allotment with the excuse being that it happens just once a year. We sing along to our favorite Christmas carols by Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Brenda Lee, Burl Ives, and a host of other artists. We remind all children who are within earshot to be good so Santa Claus will leave them lots and lots of presents. We visit family members, some of whom we only get to see at Christmas. It is a most joyous season. Somewhere in the overabundance of decorations there is often a small nativity set.
Sometimes the nativity set is of a more traditional design with lifelike representations of the Christ child, Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, an angel, and various animals. Other times it is of a more modern design such as Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang. Regardless of its outward appearance, there is always a representation of Mary, Joseph, and a babe, our savior, Jesus Christ, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
The significance of nativity sets among Christmas decorations is that they pay tribute and remind us of the miracle which has shaped the lives of all Christendom, the birth of Jesus Christ.
On Dec. 24, 1979, Mrs. Austin was in her ninth month of pregnancy. She began having contractions. The excitement of their family’s Christmas celebration went into overload when Mrs. Austin announced that the time had arrived. She was having strong and regular contractions. The baby was coming. The Austin family was delighted by the prospect of having a Christmas Eve baby, maybe even a Christmas Day baby.
The Austins transferred their Christmas celebration from their festively-decorated home, complete with nativity set, to their sparsely-decorated local hospital in Swindon, England, about 80 miles west of London. The whole family watched the second hand sweep ever so slowly on the hospital’s large wall clock. The nearer the time got to midnight, the more intently they watched the clock’s minute and second hands. When the second hand slowly swept its way around for the last time before midnight, the Austin family realized that they would not have a Christmas Eve baby.
Finally, at 15 minutes past midnight, the Austins’ new baby gave out his first cry. The Austins were the proud parents of a healthy 9 pound, 2 ounce baby boy. Their little miracle may not have been as monumental to all of mankind as the miracle that happened on Christmas day almost 2,000 years earlier, but, to the Austin family, it was a miracle nonetheless. Some people referred to the Austins’ son being born on Christmas day nothing more than a simple coincidence, while others expressed their belief that it had some greater significance.
You see, Mrs. Austin, who interrupted the Austin family Christmas celebration to have a child, was named Mary, after the biblical mother of Jesus Christ. Her husband was named after the biblical Joseph and just happened to be a carpenter.
The baby boy who was born on Christmas day to Mary and Joseph, a carpenter and his wife, was named after his father, Joseph Charles. His initials are J.C.
Sources: 1. Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), December 26, 1979, p.65. 2. Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi), December 27, 1979, p.2.