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The Christmas Letters: Letters from a Soldier to His Children about the Meaning of Christmas

The Christmas Letters: Letters from a Soldier to His Children about the Meaning of Christmas

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The Christmas Letters: Letters from a Soldier to His Children about the Meaning of Christmas

99 pagine
1 ora
Dec 13, 2016


Is there a Santa Claus? Why do we decorate a Christmas tree? What is the meaning of Christmas? Parents everywhere face similar questions at some point, especially from children who are beginning to doubt. As hard as these questions are to answer, it is even more difficult for those separated from their children or serving in the military. In 2004 and 2005, while coming off a deployment, children’s author J.D. Manders wrote these sixteen letters to his own children to answer their questions about Christmas. His straightforward explanations provide meaningful responses to such controversies as political correctness, the pagan origins of the holiday, the existence of St. Nicholas, family conflict, and giving. In doing so, he provides children from many Christian traditions and backgrounds a basis for greater faith and hope during the most beautiful of Christian holidays – Christmas.

J.D. Manders is a historian, children’s author, and motivational speaker. He wrote the fiction stories The Fairy Child and The Mermaid’s Quest for his children to help them cope with his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2012, he has spoken widely about his experiences and how to address family separations. He has been a member of the U.S. Army National Guard since 1988. He is happily married with two wonderful daughters.

Dec 13, 2016

Informazioni sull'autore

J.D. Manders is a technical writer and historian who has written widely about technology and the history of technology. He has been a member of the U.S. Army National Guard since 1988 and has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. While serving in Iraq in 2004, Mr. Manders wrote the Fairy Child as a way of connecting with his children. He has been happily married for more than twenty years and has two wonderful children.

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The Christmas Letters - J.D Manders

The Christmas Letters

Letters from a Soldier to His Children

About the Meaning of Christmas


J.D. Manders

Text copyright © 2016 by J.D. Manders

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Published by Shady Glade Publishing.

Florence, Alabama

Visit our website at

First Ebook Edition: November 2016

Summary: A deployed soldier’s letters to his children talk about Christmas traditions.

Manders, J. D.


{1. Nonfiction – Christmas. 2. Holidays – Christmas.

3. Christmas – Traditions.}

Printed in the U.S.A.

For Sarah and Lily


While I was deployed to Iraq with the National Guard – my first such deployment – I gave a lot of thought to passing along guidance to my family about my faith and values in case something happened to me. I suppose this is natural when faced with danger or threats of death. I tried many methods to do so, including making recordings of myself for my children and writing letters home. My wife taught the children to pray for me every night while looking at my picture, so they would not forget me. It was inevitable that, with my being gone during the holidays, the topic of Christmas would arise.

In talking to my wife and daughters one day, I became aware that my older daughter had a lot of questions about Christmas. Encouraged by friends who no longer believed, she was coming to an age of doubting, and she wanted to know more about Santa Claus and other Christmas traditions. She had asked my wife a lot of questions. Rather than answering her questions without me, my wife deferred them until I returned.

On being informed of her struggles, I sat down and started to write the following letters for my children. Due to our replacement and redeployment soon after Christmas, I did not finish the letters until sometime after I got home, and then I soon became busy with other projects and problems. In any case, Christmas had long since passed. Instead, I presented them to my older daughter the following Christmas, giving her one letter every few days. This was, I think, timely since the teachers at her school had heightened her questions about the holiday. I addressed a wide range of holiday issues that had come up in conversations and letters while I was deployed. I later shared these and other letters and stories with my younger daughter when I thought it was appropriate. The following are the final versions of these letters, corrected and edited to be appropriate for a wider audience.

After some consideration and the passage of many years, and in light of my recent forays into children’s literature, I have decided to share with the public what were personal thoughts for my children about Christmas in the hopes it might provide edification to others. Many adults struggle with how to explain Christmas to their children. Many grown-ups also have a lot of questions about the origins and celebration of Christmas, which has often been maligned and confused in the public arena. This is sad because Christmas is the origin of much good will in the world. More than any other holiday, Christmas has inspired good works and good will, not just for Christians, but for those in many faiths throughout the world. Even those without faith are often encouraged by Christmas as the season of perpetual hope. I can only pray that my sharing these letters will do a little to abate the suspicion and confusion about what is the most beautiful of Christian holidays.

J.D. Manders



The Christmas Season


Christmas Decorations

Christmas Trees

The Festival of Lights

Christmas Greetings

Christmas Cards

Christmas Church Services

Christmas and Family

Christmas Eve and Day

Santa Claus

Giving and Getting Gifts


New Year’s Day

Feast of the Epiphany

The True Meaning of Christmas


The Christmas Season

My Dearest Children,

You are now getting to the point in life when you will be starting to make up your own minds about what you believe and the traditions you will follow as adults. It was my intention, when you were old enough, to discuss our faith in general and our traditions about Christmas and other holidays. That way, you will have a full understanding of why we believe what we believe and why we celebrate holidays the way that we do. Some of these traditions we have already discussed, but others we did not disclose because of your ages or simply because they never came up. I had planned on completing these letters when you were older. However, learning that you are beginning to seek the truth about Christmas, I believe that now is the time, while my thoughts are fresh, to set these things down for you for the future. In this, rather than trying to talk to you, I have decided it would be easier to put them into writing and discuss them with you in person as needed to answer your questions. It will also preserve my thoughts in case I do not get to share them with you in the future.

As you know, Christmas has always been important to our family. As Christians, we celebrate two major holidays related to Jesus, whom we hold as the Messiah or Anointed One, and God come in the flesh, or Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), which means literally God with us. Of course, we honor Jesus every day, and we go to public worship on Sunday, the first day of the week. But we have always commemorated Jesus especially on two holy days. Although some Christians have questioned the origins of these holidays and do not celebrate them, the majority have accepted them as the two major Christian celebrations. The first of these is Christmas, in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus, even though we do not know exactly when Jesus was born. The second is Easter, when we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. I personally believe that Easter is the more important of the two since it is Jesus’ death and resurrection that won our

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