The Twelve Days of Christmas
Day Nine...December 22, 2013
Terry Paulson, PhD, CSP, CPAE
On the Ninth Day of Christmas my true friend gave to me...
A special folded napkin of love...
This year, each message will be archived on my website, and you can see some past collections of messages by visiting that website now at
A CHRISTMAS THOUGHT FOR THE DAY...
As our culture tries to silence Christians into not saying "Merry Christmas" and for bringing Christ into Christmas, it is important as Christians to realize our call to evangelize and share our faith. Ed Stetzer's article, "Stop Talking Yourself Out of Evangelism" in Outreach, puts it well: "Why is it that Christians are looking for ways to talk themselves out of doing evangelism? It's pretty clear that God sent Jesus into the world to seek and to save the lost.... Francis of Assisi is attributed the statement: 'Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, add words.' ... I can appreciate living in such a way that our lives point to the person and work of Jesus. However, two basic problems exist: 1) Francis never said it, and 2) the quote is just not Biblical. ...The Bible is full of exhortations to share the gospel with words (Matt/ 24:14; Acts 5:42; Acts 8:5; Acts 17:3). ... Saying 'preach the gospel; when necessary use words' is a lot like saying 'feed the hungry; when necessary use food.' Both are silly when people need bread--and the bread of life. So proclaim it. Out Load. To people without Christ.... Let's live out the gospel--but also tell people far and wide about the good news of Christ."
Christmas is a time to share how grateful you are for the greatest gift of all--faith! And we are to share the reason for our hope for the New Year and beyond with gentleness and respect....
I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY..."Folded Napkins"
"I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie.
He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.
I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.
After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old kid in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table. Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.
Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.
He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new heart valve. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often have heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.
A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine. Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news. One of our regular trucker customers stared at the sight of this 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table.
Frannie confessed, "We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay." They knew Stevie and wanted to know more. Frannie quickly told the drivers sitting at the booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed: " Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be OK," she said. "But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is."
After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face. She said, "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup when I cleared the table." She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed "Something For Stevie." Word spread of the gesture and the need.
That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work. His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming,. I arranged to have his mother bring him to work. I then met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back.
Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.
"Hold up there, Stevie. Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate your coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!" I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room.
I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins. "First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess," I said. I tried to sound stern.
Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table. Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. "There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. "Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!"
Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well. But you know what's funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table..
Best worker I ever hired...and one of the best holiday memories I've ever had.
--Compliments of Jo Cavender
AND NOW YOUR CHRISTMAS MIRTHFUL MOMENT... "The Four Stages of Life"
"Our Lawyer wishes us, but in no way guarantees, a Merry Christmas." Stu's Views (Compliments of Vicki Hitzges)
'Right in the middle of the produce section, Frosty the Snowman got caught picking his nose." Tundra Comics (Compliments of Vicki Hitzges)
AND NOW YOUR YouTube CHRISTMAS MOMENT...
Every year, more and more stores refuse to even display the words, "Merry Christmas." Carrie Rinderer and the American Christian Life United, a different ACLU, choir send a message that it's about time we embrace. (Compliments of Elke LeBoeuf)
Remember, You can find the archived messages from this year's series on my website at http://terrypaulson.com/christmas.shtml. For now, keep your sense of humor and your sense of thanksgiving and anticipation! More tomorrow...as we prepare for His coming!
Your Host for our 12 Day Journey to Christmas.
Terry Paulson, PhD