Ed and Mary Shroeder can recall small blessings at Christmas even in times of
great poverty. Ed remembers one Christmas when he was a child, he and his
siblings had to stay in bed because it was too cold to get up.
Mary's memory is of a Christmas in Poland when her parents could not afford
gifts, but they did go into the forest to pick a tree to bring home and covered
it with bits of paper. However, her greatest longing was to give her dear mother
a gift. She was impressed to give her mother her heart, but she had no concept
about giving her heart to Jesus until age 13 when she received Him as her
Now, after raising six children, they have a family of about 42. Their children
have said they should not give gifts anymore. But the last couple of years Mary
has ordered a large hot tub for the back yard, and the kids have all enjoyed
that as the gift from the grandparents.
Every Christmas Mary gathers the children around to tell the Christmas story with flash cards and a birthday cake for Jesus. Sometimes the children are given a box of costume clothes and they organize a pageant for the adults.
Mary and Ed encourage everyone in the family to give Jesus a birthday gift. At first they took an offering for a special missions project; now everyone writes down on pieces of paper the gift they are giving to Jesus, usually a sum for a ministry or favourite missions project.
Then they have a sharing time when everyone tells the whole family what God has done for them in the past year. This is the most precious period for them; a wonderful time of seeing how family members have grown spiritually in the past year.
It used to be that Ed and Mary handed out candles. Only when someone was
sharing were they allowed to light theirs. But with so many younger children,
there was too much danger of accidental fire, so Mary decided last year to buy
up a quantity of clear stars on a stem with batteries in the stand. Now they
light these instead, by pushing a switch, and marvel at the growing circle of
shining stars as they listen to the touching personal testimonies of shining for
- Ruth Marlene Friesen