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Tony Rossi, Director of Communications,

The Christmas Cradle

December 8

Kids are used to getting presents for Christmas, and likely giving a few themselves. But

Meadow Rue Merrill wants to expand their horizons by making it a fun family tradition to also

give gifts to Jesus in a special way. That’s what inspired her children’s book “The Christmas


Merrill won a Christopher Award last year for her memoir “Redeeming Ruth,” about her

adoption of a disabled orphan from Uganda. The mother of five joined me on “Christopher Closeup” recently to discuss “The Christmas Cradle,” which tells the story of a girl named Molly and her family who visit her Aunt Jenny to celebrate the holiday. Molly comes across a Christmas cradle in a box, and asks her aunt its purpose. Aunt Jenny explains, “Growing up, we played a game to share God’s love with others. Each December, we sang carols, delivered meals, and visited people who were lonely. Then we wrote each act of love on a card and put it in the cradle as a gift for Jesus. On Christmas morning, we read the cards and prayed for each person we’d served.”

In writing the book, Merrill said she contemplated the questions, “How do we give a gift to Jesus, who has everything? I feel like we can do that best by giving gifts to other people in His name.”

Merrill doesn’t just approach that idea from the standpoint of a giver, but also a recipient of kindness. She recalls, “One of my favorite Christmas memories was when we truly had very little to give our kids, and a neighbor encouraged them to write letters to Santa. I was thinking, ‘Why? We don’t even have the ability to [afford anything].’ But on Christmas Eve, [this neighbor] invited our family over to her home, and there in the middle of her living room was a pile of Christmas gifts [for my family], including for the baby that I was pregnant with. As my husband and I brought those home that Christmas Eve, it really was the kind of magic that we all hope for – but somehow spending it on ourselves doesn’t make it happen. It’s when we find someone with a greater need than ourselves to give it away.”

Part of Merrill’s awareness of poverty stems from her experience adopting Ruth. She says, “Ruth won our hearts with her bright smile and the laughter in her eyes. It took a great amount of sacrifice to meet her physical needs, and yet the joy she brought us was so incredible.”

Unfortunately, Ruth passed away due to health complications, but her legacy lives on. Merrill says, “Getting to know Ruth and meeting her needs opened our eyes to the needs of children around the world, and in our own communities, who don’t have what they need. I realized how far our gifts, donations, and even time, can go when we invest those in the lives of someone else. Ruth changed our hearts forever in the way we look at things, and we want to reach out and share what we have with others.”

Merrill hopes that people don’t just read “The Christmas Cradle,” but act on it. She concludes, “When [families] have the opportunity to do a good deed for someone else, they can write it on a little piece of paper and put it in the cradle. Then on Christmas morning, we can remember those people who we served by taking out their names on the cards and praying for them.”


For free copies of the Christopher News Note EMBRACING THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail:  

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