Growing up in a Christian family. We always wanted to keep the “Christ” in Christmas. It wasn’t about gifts wrapped up under a Christmas tree. It was about focusing on those who were less fortunate than us, and finding a way to give back. It wasn’t about Santa Claus like all the other children I went to school with. It was about the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It wasn’t about the popular Christmas songs that everybody at school knew. It was about the Christmas Carols that we often sang at the seniors home with the church on Sunday afternoons after service. I often felt different from those I went to school with due to the religious family I was born into. I also learned to embrace that difference often carrying my bible to school with me and reading it at recess time.

Every December well the rest of the children at school talked about what they wanted for Christmas. I wasn’t interested in gifts. I was interested in getting a lead role in the Christmas Pageant at church. I never did get the role I wanted. I was always considered too shy. I had a huge supporter though as I often invited my teachers, and my teachers assitants to come watch me and my siblings in our pageants. One of the teachers and her teachers assistant had always come to see us. He left such a mark in my life that I when I grew up I went back to visit my old school and watch the children taking the yellow school bus, and he was still there. I walked up to him, and he gave me a huge hug, and completely remembered me. I was so hurt to find out that a few years a go he passed a way at a very young age from diabetes. He had been one of the most positive influences in my life. It amazed me how someone could have so little, and be fighting so much, but still give so much.

He was a man of the arts. He knew how to craft the most difficult things out of wood. He often decorated the bulletin board outside the office for the parents. I just remember him so fondly. I think I hope I took a little bit of who he was with me into my adulthood. He was always there to help. I didn’t understand how much he was struggling until I grew up and understood what diabetes was. I don’t know how someone can be so sick, and still be so positive. He might not be what we strive for as success, but I think true success is when you find your peace and inner happiness and I think he found that when he gave so much to humanity in his short lived life.

I just remember at recess sometimes I would practice my lines for the pageant. It took me years to even get lines. They often put me as an angel in those white flowery dresses with those white angel wings because I was a girl. They thought I’d be too shy to get lines. They often make the girls angels and they make the boys sheep. I got so tired of being an angel. I told the pastors wife. I want a different part. I really wanted to be the lead. She didn’t think I could do it, so she made me a wiseman also known as a magi. I remember that year the teachers assistant and the teacher from my school he was helping came to watch me in the pageant. It’s probably one of my favourite memories and I got to wear cool costumes. I eventually got to be the shepherd of the sheep and get a lot of lines. That’s the most I ever got though. I still look look back on Christmas for the Pageants well everybody looks back on Christmas for the gifts underneath the Christmas tree.

As I grew up I learned to love and appreciate the small things. I learned hospitality. I think sometimes people mistake me as someone who is so courageous that sometimes they miss my tears. I think that’s the power of being raised with Jesus as the center of your life. How do you see Christmas? I’m keeping the CHRIST in my Christmas. I’ve added holiday celebrations as a grown up because as we all live in different places now. It’s a time to have family reunions and read those bible passages together over a feast well we pray and show gratitude to the one who gave us the greatest gift of all.

Irene Mielke

Irene enjoys writing and inspiring everybody that she meets. She has wisdom for days when it comes to life. She loves to read and support others in becoming the best version of themselves. She also loves to go the gym and her favourite sport is soccer.