Updated on April 10, 2023
Doug Tales 113: The First Christmas
Easter or Resurrection Sunday was celebrated by Christians yesterday. Years ago, at Christmastime 1999, Doug Mendenhall learned his 10-year-old daughter had personally seen the birth, life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ while in her then-recent coma. He shares that first telling of the First Christmas in My Peace I Give Unto You (2001), pp. 119-123:
“Looks like it is just us.” I said to Denise and my youngest son.
Dianne had just left with our other two daughters to go to a women’s Christmas party at the church. My middle son was out with friends. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve and they wanted to get together before they all went their separate ways for the holidays.
“Can I watch a movie?” My son asked. He saw an opportunity to watch what he wanted and not what was forced on him by one of the older kids.
“You betcha.” I smiled at him.
He raced off to the family room with Denise hot on his heels.
“I’ll be in my bedroom if you kids need anything,” I yelled in their direction.
I didn’t often get the chance to relax and read in solitude, so I was looking forward to the next two hours. The two youngest would be occupied by a movie and everyone else was out and about.
I picked up a book and began to read. Within minutes I became lost in the words of the author as he opened up the world of the South American shamans, their unique way of obtaining knowledge and passing it on to subsequent generations….
“Ooo, Daddy, I never want to be a mommy.” Denise startled me.
“What? What are you talking about?” I was still half-immersed in that far away world of the South American shaman.
“It’s yucky to be a mommy. I don’t think I want to be one.” She contorted her face and stuck out her tongue.
I knew instantly, somehow, that she was talking about giving birth.
“When did you ever see childbirth? Are you watching the nature channel?”
“No, it just looks yucky.”
“When did you see a baby be born?” My mind instantly left South America. Denise had my full attention.
“Not very long ago.”
“Who did you see be born?”
“Jesus? When did you see Him be born?”
“While I was in my coma.” She came and sat next to me on the bed and looked into my eyes. “You can’t tell anyone, okay?”
“Okay, but can I tell just Mommy?”
“Well . . .” she thought for a moment, “just Mommy.”
She then proceeded to tell me about her experience while she was in the coma. How for those three days, she actually spent the time with Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. She then described in great detail the birth, life and crucifixion of the Savior. She mentioned things that only a ten-year-old would remember, but only a scholar would know.
When she finished her story she looked at me and smiled. I guess I smiled back, I don’t know. My mind was a whirlwind of thoughts, ideas and questions. I looked at the open book at my side and back to Denise. No book written could compare to what my little girl had to offer.
For the first time since I learned of her gifts I openly wondered what else she knew and what else she could do.
“Denise, how much did They tell you while you were with Them?”
“You mean Heavenly Father and Jesus?”
“I don’t know.” She shrugged her shoulders and then gave me a big hug.
“I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you, too.”…
Later, handmade decorations covered the little Christmas tree while a host of teddy bears given as gifts to a little girl in a hospital surrounded it, replacing the bright and shiny wrapped gifts that would normally occupy the coveted space beneath the beautifully decorated branches. As the family enjoyed the comfort of each other’s presence, a little ten-year-old girl stood and began to tell the story of the first Christmas. The Christmas tree faded into the background as the story of Mary and Joseph came alive through her words. The family knew then, that truly, she had witnessed that humble event, the birth of the Savior of all mankind.
That Christmas Eve, all thoughts of sugarplums and tinsel willingly gave way to the little girl’s memory of the greatest gift of all.