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First American Christmas came at age eight  

By Staff | Dec 12, 2018

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary The Rev. Thomas Glasoe (center), along with other attendees at the 40th annual candlelight service, enjoyed cookies and mulled cider after the event. Rev. Glasoe shared the personal account of his first Christmas in America after being adopted in 1982.

WARRIOR RUN – “Christmas may start in July at Walmart, but for me, it truly doesn’t begin until after this candlelight service,” said Alfred Reeves when welcoming those gathering for the 40th annual Christmas Candlelight Service at the historic Warrior Run Presbyterian Church. Reeves also shared, “We are happy to announce that after much paperwork with the state, the church is now under the auspices of the Warrior Run-Fort Freeland Heritage Society.”

Reeves introduced the evening’s speaker, the Rev. Thomas Glasoe, pastor of the St. John’s Lutheran Church at Pottsgrove and Follmer Lutheran Church near Milton. Relating how it was that his first Christmas was spent in America came about when the Vietnamese/American was adopted in 1982 by a couple in Minneapolis. After being abandoned at birth, he spent nearly eight years in a Catholic orphanage. “If you were not completely Vietnamese, you were considered dirt,” he said.

Along with the couple’s daughter and two adopted Vietnamese brothers, Halloween was the first holiday the youngster spent in this country. “I was given a pillowcase to collect goodies which included a Hershey Bar, my first introduction to anything Pennsylvania. Not knowing a bit of English, my brothers taught me what I thought was ‘Trick or Treat,’ which was really ‘Take a Piss.’ It’s a wonder I got any candy,” the Reverend said.

“Next came Thanksgiving when my adopted dad took everything out of the inside of a turkey and put other stuff in. In Vietnam, we ate everything, I could not believe how much food we had,” the speaker said.

“After Thanksgiving, my adopted dad went out and cut off a tree though I thought it looked fine where it was. They brought it in and put in water which even I knew that wasn’t going to last. They did something I’ll bet you’ve all heard of, they decorated it with tinsel, bright balls and lights,” Rev. Glasoe said.

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary (Left-right) Rachael Ravert Ludovico, Lydia Boyer and Cecilia Brown sing during the 40th annual candlelight service on Dec. 8 at the 183-year-old Warrior Run Presbyterian Church.  

The speaker recalled the family’s dogs, a Bulldog and Pekingese, both with smashed faces. They drank the water beneath the tree which he thought might be medicinal. When boxes began to pile around the tree, he didn’t understand what the boxes were about. That was until Christmas morning when the sister put packages in front of him to open. “There were Legos, clothes and lots of things an eight-year-old would like,” he said.

Now a pastor, Rev. Glasoe contrasted his first experience with the meaning of Christmas by saying, “Mary and Joseph were poor strangers who went to a far country in Bethlehem and were given a place in a lowly stable. The first visitors were poor shepherds, the only ones who lived outdoors. Much like them, I was a poor stranger and was taken in.”

The speaker brought the centuries old Christmas story up to date by saying, “Today we hear the term ‘Zena phobic’ which means ‘afraid of strangers.’ I like the term ‘Zena philia’ which means love of strangers. Go forth and be examples of caring and sharing during this holiday, and onward.”

The Saturday evening Dec. 8 program’s special music included “O Holy Night” sung by Rachael Ludovico accompanied by her father John Ravert on the church’s antique organ. Rachael was then joined in a trio with Warrior Run seniors Lydia Bower and Cecelia Brown who sang “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

There were several congregational songs with the evening ending by socializing at the shed with cookies and hot mulled cider.