Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Day 2004

I love Christmastime. I love the entire season. From Thanksgiving to the Epiphany is my favorite time of the whole year. I love the preparations, the decorating, the lights, the shopping, the snow, the cold, the warmth, the music, the atmosphere, the togetherness, the food, the sweets, the hustle and the bustle. I love the tradition, the gift-giving, parades, preparing music for Midnight Mass, choosing the tree, the family gatherings, the memories, the time off work to spend with my wife and children, the tastes, the smells -- I love it all.

While it may seem like the true reason for our Christmas celebration gets lost, this should be a time a great celebration of when Our Savior became flesh and lived among us. I could launch into a diatribe against the secularization or commercialization of Christmas, or worse yet, the assault on Christianity by our so-called civil libertarians who want to eliminate Christ from Christmas. I could, but not now. I only hope that the judges who agree with this position are willing to remain on the job Christmas day.

Instead, I would like to dwell on the wide range of emotions that flash through my mind on this particular Christmas Day. Being personally involved with many elements of preparation leaves precious little time to concentrate on the plight of others. Having served on the local Park Board for some 27 years, I have assumed annual duties of repairing and hanging street decorations downtown, decorating the town park, and of course, performing similar tasks at home. As a Vincentian, I assist with coordinating the Angel Tree in our church where parishioners can adopt a needy family at Christmastime. Shopping, school programs, and other seasonal activities occupy most every evening after work.

With so much happening, we have little time to think. Then, all of a sudden Christmas Day arrives and it's over. Our loved ones depart for their homes and a certain melancholy feeling settles in. I seem to often find tears in my eyes on Christmas evening and this year is no exception. I think about my oldest son who comes to visit so seldom. He spent Christmas Eve in our home and most likely will not spend another night here until next Christmas, if then. We were so close when he was growing up, but now he seems so distant at times. When he was younger, we worked on projects together. We fixed things together. While our relationship once carried a strong bond of family and faith, something happened that I don't fully understand. How I wish I could fix this, and how I hate to see him drive away.

After spending some time feeling sorry for myself, I think about others who are so much worse off than I am. I think about my cousin who is spending this Christmas alone in a hospital so distant from his home in a desperate fight against the cancer that has ravaged his body. I think about another cousin who may be on the streets of Indianapolis this Christmas night when the temperature is expected to dip below zero. I think about my brother who is blind and confined to a wheelchair. I think about friends who lost their only child, a teenage daughter, to a tragic auto accident this past year. I think about all the families who have loved ones at war, not knowing whether they will ever see them alive again. I think about the elderly couple down the street who may be spending their last Christmas together after 63 years of marriage. I think about all the lonely souls in the Health Facility which we visit. Some of them have no family left to care for them. I wonder about all those who are silently suffering some personal grief this Christmas night with no one to comfort them.

I have so much to be thankful for. I have a wonderful wife, and three great children. We are all healthy and warm. I had two loving parents who were always there for me until they died. I have a sister I am close to and a terrific extended family. I cherish these Christmases because there is no telling how many of them we will have to enjoy together. I have my faith and my Church. I was born into the Body of Christ who was Himself born this day to save us. No amount of preparation or celebration is too much. Thank you God for giving me this Christmas day.