Mary Did You Know?

Thirty-plus years ago, my husband, daughter and I were living in Bonn, Germany; at the time Germany’s capital. Bill had been offered a position in Bonn by his employer and we both thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to live in Europe; and so, Bill accepted. Erin attended the Dept. of Defense elementary school and we attended both the American Catholic and Protestant churches; both were international/multi-cultural congregations.

One day, early on in our tour, in early December, I was finishing up on some holiday decorating – Bill was at work, Erin in school. Our radio was tuned to the Armed Forces Network (AFN) station which was playing Christmas/holiday music – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the song and the TV special were both favorites), Frosty the Snowman, traditional Christmas carols that I knew by heart, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas (a Christmas classic and a movie I loved). I was singing along; enjoying the moment and the season. And, then my moment of joy quickly ended when a popular song sung by Bing Crosby came over the radio – “I’ll be Home for Christmas (if only in my dreams).” The realization we would not be home – again – for Christmas hit me fast and hit me hard. I sat there deep in thought long after the song ended and while other songs quickly followed. What had we done by coming to live in a foreign country? We were missing out on family Christmases back in the states.

Continuing to sit there, I remember the DJ saying he was going to play a new holiday song that was becoming quite popular. Initially, I wasn’t very attentive but I remember the introduction had a nice melody – and then I found I was listening intently; attempting to catch every word that was sung. The song was “Mary, did you know?” I was completely smitten by the song and its message – did Mary know what her baby boy would grow up to do; all the wondrous miracles He would perform and how He would save us, redeem us? This young mom was chosen by God and it seems she fulfilled what was expected from her. I remember thinking, could I have done something like this?

This song quite simply got me out of my self-pity mode and I began to re-think that our being in Germany was an honor; my husband was representing our country at the American Embassy, Erin loved her school (and friends) and all the activities it offered, and I was volunteering in our community, at Erin’s school and at church. We didn’t leave Christmas back in the states when we left for Germany; Christmas came with us. Germany, we discovered, has deep Christmas roots – its outdoor Christmas markets are world renowned, the beautiful churches and cathedrals, wooden nutcrackers, the famous Lebkuchen gingerbread cookies, the beautiful carol Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night, Holy Night) sung everywhere – and, in German!

Finally, wherever you are on Christmas day, and if you are not home with family, make new memories/create new traditions with new friends and neighbors and as the last verse of my now favorite Christmas song says: “Mary, did you know that your baby boy is LORD of all creation? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations? Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? The sleeping child you’re holding is the great, I Am.” (My favorite rendition is sung by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd; there are other versions – by Pentatonix, Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, and others).

         Fröhliche Weihnachten (Merry Christmas) everyone! 

Here’s the version by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd:

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Here’s a version of “Mary Did You Know” for you to listen to: 

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