We are a day away from Christmas Eve. Gifts are wrapped and wait under the tree. Have we forgotten anyone? What a terrifying thought!
In the middle of our merrymaking and frenzied last-minute shopping, in the once peaceful and quiet town of Newtown, Connecticut, families are huddled in grief, desperately trying to make sense of their pain. All across America and even the world, there’s an air of sorrow and bereavement.
They say that Christmas is for children. But what about the 20 children who will not wake up Christmas morning to open presents under the tree?
Someone said there are now 20 bright new stars in the sky. What a pretty thought. And although I weep for them and their parents, I know without a doubt that these innocents are now in heaven with Jesus, the Prince of Peace. My faith tells me that this is so.
Home for Christmas
But will this help console the devastated moms and dads whose hearts are irreparably broken? Will it help them pick up the pieces of their lives?
I pray it does. Their world will never be the same. But they need to believe that their little children, killed without mercy by a dark soul with a broken mind, are really and truly “home for Christmas”; that they sleep in heavenly peace.
These are frightening times. Life is cheap. Guns are gadgets, just like cell phones, iPads. My grandson asks: “Please explain to me why when I have a cold I have to show valid ID and am limited to just one box of Aleve Cold and Sinus, but in most states I could buy as many as 50 caliber sniper rifles as my credit limit will allow?”
To say that something is very wrong here is a huge understatement.
Sweet, soft memories
Christmas, more than any other time of the year, evokes sweet and soft memories of time with family. It brings back picture-perfect scenes of parents and children, grandparents, uncles and aunts around a Christmas tree, of gifts exchanged; and the warmth of hugs and kisses.
For some it is a season that brings back bittersweet remembrances of the family intact, with no one missing, nothing broken. Time takes its toll on even the most perfect of situations, but always there is reason to give thanks.
I have a lump in my throat thinking of the faces I will miss, but am grateful for the ones I still can see and touch. Nothing is more beautiful than the love and warmth of your children and grandchildren around you. I drink it all in. Unspeakable joy! I am blessed.
It will be a bleak Christmas for many. The residents of towns ravaged by typhoon “Pablo” are still digging themselves out of the muck and mud that destroyed their homes and the little they once owned. Over a thousand are dead and hundreds still missing and feared lost forever. Where is the light and love of Christmas for them?
They say that Christmas brings out the best in people; that even the jaded and cold-hearted can manage a twinkle in their eyes. But many of us are too busy and caught up in the trappings of the celebration. We forget that there are hungry and broken people out there wondering what the tinsel is all about.
Shortly after the Newtown tragedy, I read a news item on social networks that made me stop and think.
Ann Curry, American television personality and NBC news anchor, reacted to the tragedy in Connecticut, drawing from her experience while covering the genocide in Darfur in 2007. There, armed only with a Polaroid camera, she realized how an act of kindness could make a difference.
After the massacre in Sandy Hook last week, Curry embarked on a kindness drive. She sent out a call for people to do acts of kindness. It is like paying it forward. She explains: “If you do good, you feel good.”
Curry’s campaign is dedicated to the victims of the shooting. People are asked to do 26 Acts of Kindness to honor the 20 children and six teachers who lost their lives. It feels so good that most don’t stop at 26.
How about us? What can we do? How do we honor the memory of those slain in Newtown? What can we do to commemorate the 57 victims of violence in Maguindanao? We are all diminished and utterly violated by these senseless acts. We cannot remain helpless in the face of such evil.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
It is Christmas. We speak and sing of love and joy, of peace and goodwill. There is something else you can do. Today, make kindness your anthem.
It is simple. Be nice to someone who’s grouchy. At a restaurant, leave a big tip for the waiter. Send a Christmas greeting to someone in trouble. Visit a prisoner. Share your time with an elderly person.
Your friend can’t make it home for Christmas? Buy her a ticket. Golfers, does your caddy have children? Buy them Christmas clothes. At Starbucks, pay for the coffee of the one in line behind you. Help someone carry her packages.
I am sure you will come up with dozens more. The possibilities are endless. All you need is a willing heart.
Our kindness campaign is not just for the holidays. But Christmas is a good time to start.
Christmas is not about presents under the tree. It is not about feasts on our tables. It is about Jesus; about His love and why He came to live among us. It is about sharing and caring, giving and forgiving, about reaching out and making life a little easier for someone else.
“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” (Dale Evans)
To all my rocking readers: Be kind to one another! Merry Christmas!