Summary: Sometimes all we know are "NO’s". We learn to live within the limis of can-not, must-not, will-not, and have-not. We really need a "YES"! Here’s the best YES of all.
All I want for Christmas is JESUS!
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
One of the first words we know is “NO”!
From the time we break forth from the womb, we are given restrictions. As soon as we are made presentable, we are bundled tightly so that we will remain warm. When we begin putting thoughts and words together, one of the concepts children learn is “NO”!
Sometimes the knowledge of the NO is for another’s convenience.
Sometimes the knowledge of the NO is for our protection.
“No, you must not touch to stove or you’ll be burned.” Or “Don’t go outside without your shoes on!”
Even the first words God says to man is NO.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man,
"You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;
17 but you must not eat
from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
for when you eat of it you will surely die."
All for man’s protection but still restrictive.
As we grow older, others join in this educational process so that we know the NO. Teachers, Preachers, Employers, Friends. Each person comes into our lives with another “NO” for us to know. All of them add to our knowledge of NO so that our lives become filled with “NO’s”. So we learn to live within the limits of can-not, must-not, will-not, and have-not.
No wonder at Christmastime the malls are filled with rude, tired people fighting over material things that will most probably end up at Goodwill by the end of the year. The streets are full of bumper to bumper tempers and foul attitudes. All because all we know is “NO!”
No wonder we expect God to always tell us “NO”! After all, if God loved us, could He not destroy all the negative things around us? Could He not end war for good? Could He not end sin? Could He not put an end to all the hate, all the “NO’s” that we have come to know?
On July 13th, Frances changed Henry’s life by saying “YES” to Him in marriage. Less than a year later, their little home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was blessed with the birth of their first child, Charles. Eventually, the Longfellow household numbered five children-- Charles, Ernest, Alice, Edith, and Allegra.
Henry and Fanny had a happy little family and a happy life. Sure there were all the “NO’s” every family knows and then some. Fanny recorded in her journal on July 9, 1861: "We are all sighing for the good sea breeze instead of this stifling land one filled with dust. Poor Allegra is very droopy with heat, and Edie has to get her hair in a net to free her neck from the weight." After trimming some of seven year old Edith’s beautiful curls, Fanny decided to preserve the clippings in sealing wax. Melting a bar of sealing wax with a candle, a few drops fell unnoticed upon her dress. The longed-for sea breeze gusted through the window, igniting the light material of Fanny’s dress-- immediately wrapping her in flames. In her attempt to protect Edith and Allegra, she ran to Henry’s study in the next room, where Henry frantically attempted to extinguish the flames with a nearby, but undersized throw rug. Failing to stop the fire with the rug, he tried to smother the flames by throwing his arms around Frances-- severely burning his face, arms, and hands. Fanny died the next morning. Too ill from his burns and grief, Henry did not attend her funeral.
The first Christmas after Fanny’s death, Henry wrote, "How inexpressibly sad are all holidays."
A year after the incident, he wrote, "I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace."
Henry’s journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: "’A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me."
Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac, had been severely wounded with a bullet passing under his shoulder blades and taking off one of the spinal processes.
On December 25, 1864, America was torn in two by Civil War. Henry penned these words that Christmas:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’ unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.