I've been considering for days what the topic should be for this post. I thought about regurgitating the story of when I met the real Santa Claus and how that dusty stranger should remind us how to act regardless of the season. I gave consideration to poking a little fun at C & E Christians to support the notion that we should keep our Spiritual lives active year-round. I was also trying to figure a way to talk about family gatherings and how important they are with those present now, and in remembrance of those who are gone.
And then last Friday, a manifestation of evil made its way to the Sandy Hook Elementary School and ruined Christmas for so many families.
I have been struggling in the wake of such a tragedy with not only how to write, but how to act in this Happiest Season of All. Little by little, with the help of others, I am beginning to see that the joy of gift giving, the celebration of the Nativity and the fellowship of friends and family is NOT disrespectful to those in mourning, and the Christmas feelings exist in defiance of evil.
Once a year we revive the myth of a supernatural elfin reindeer herder who, within those few short hours of darkness, visits every house on Earth to selflessly leave a cache of toys for children. We do this because we love the look on their faces and because we love the feeling of sacrificial gift giving. Knowing full well that there are scores of presents that will remain unopened, you must wonder, “Does Santa skip Newtown this year?”
Mr. Rogers helped me find Santa. He said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.” You saw the real Santa Claus in the faces of all of those who ran to help and are still there helping.
In the aftermath of last Friday, the news, Internet and social networks have been flooded with sympathetic well-wishers offering to include those who died and those left behind in their prayers. I have to wonder how many of those people really did say a prayer, and more importantly, when was the last time they called out to God. We should not wait until we suffer some misfortune or witness some catastrophe (or for Christmas and Easter) to remember our Faith. I hope you did say a prayer for those 26 souls and for all of those they left behind, but I hope, too, that you’ll say a prayer tomorrow and the next day.
And lastly don’t postpone the opportunities to be with and cherish your friends and family. Most of us, I’m sure, have an empty seat in our heart for those who will not be joining our holiday meal. I know some of you have said goodbye to a loved one in this past year, and this Christmas will be your first without… In that darkness of mourning, there is always the light of hope. The news doesn't report all of the planes that land safely, or the road trips made without incident, or faces and names of all those precious little boys and girls who WILL get tucked in by a parent tonight. So whether it is your child, niece or nephew, your brother or sister, mother or father, friend or lover, rejoice in the time you have and recognize that each and every one of them is yet another miracle. And don’t ever allow yourself to be in the position of regretting not parting with a hug and a kiss, or not saying goodbye, I’m sorry or I love you.
Please for the sake of all of those around you and especially for those innocent lives lost in Connecticut, prove that the evil did not win and have a Merry Christmas.