- Thomas Merton
For years I used to send regular "FYI - Newsletters" to friends and clients around the country. As the Internet became more popular it soon became a vehicle for these messages. One of these "mailings" would always be around this time of year and of course , surprise - surprise, they were filled with stories. Then a unique and delightful surprise occurred when my email box would become inundated with notes of "thanks" from friends and strangers around the country for the Christmas and holiday message. I was and still remain humbled as all I am is an "imperfect" vehicle for a bigger message.
Here are some of my past readers' favorites .
* One of my favorite comic strips is “Peanuts.” It is a vehicle that helps me laugh and be reflective at the same time. In one particular strip that appeared around this time of year Charlie Brown asked Lucy why she was so happy. Lucy explained how it was "Christmas" and she explained further that this was the time of year to "spread joy, caring, compassion, giving and love." Charlie Brown wondered to Lucy, "Why do we just do these things at Christmastime and why can't we do those things all year round?" Lucy yelled at Charlie Brown "What are you some type of religious fanatic?!"
* Every Christmas Eve both of my girls reminded me to put out milk and cookies for Santa. When they were old enough they dictated a note I had to leave for Santa to accompany the cookies and milk . They chose each word carefully and made sure that their message was clear and complete.
Here are some milk and cookies for your journey. Thank you for stopping by and leaving us gifts but please do not forget all the poor children who need food and clothing this Christmas and all year round.
Lindsay and Leigh"
* Lindsay was born a couple of days before Christmas and we were so thrilled and blessed to bring her home on Christmas day. As we drove up to the house on Lindsay's first Christmas a song and record that was released just earlier that same month was playing on the radio. It was a fund raiser initiated by a "punk rocker" in Great Britain to help the victims of the great famine in Africa that year. (" Do they Know it's Christmas"[ Feed the world]) It somehow reminded us how blessed we were and how others still needed our prayers and help.
Three years later on Lindsay's birthday I received a call from Ginny's doctor as Lindsay and I waited for Ginny to arrive home from work. When Ginny opened the door to wish Lindsay a Happy Birthday we shared the news hat Ginny was pregnant with another baby girl, Leigh. (Another gift!) Just as we began to celebrate the good news a group of carolers wandered up our driveway singing "Joy to the World." We all hugged and laughed and cried in gratitude.
But it doesn't end there ! You see I had a habit or tradition of making a Christmas tape of some favorite Christmas songs to be played on my stereo from early morning and throughout the day on December 25. Now it's all digital on an iPod! But 22 years ago as we listened to the background Christmas music as Lindsay ripped through her presents when she suddenly stopped as "Do they know its Christmastime" (that same song we heard her first Christmas)came on the stereo. Lindsay surprised us when she volunteered exclaiming "That's my favorite Christmas song!" I think it is still one of her favorites.(see lyrics below and click on the picture on the left menu of this blog.)
* It seemed that the hour before dawn on Christmas morning was the secret alarm clock for both of the girls to wake and circle around the Christmas tree. The Christmas music , coffee and the video camera all seemed to start almost automatically and simultaneously with the girls' delight and laughter. The Christmas paper wrappings miraculously piled up in the middle of the floor as gifts became uncovered. However, one year Leigh opened a few presents when she stopped just as quickly as she started whispering softly "that's enough." Without hesitation she went under the tree and grabbed a decorated box and placed it on my lap and said "This is for you dad. You deserve it!" When I thanked her and encouraged her to continue with opening her presents she and her sister stood by my side smiling as I opened their gift as they reminded me that Christmas is "about giving not receiving."
* When the girls were young I was nominated to do the "Saturday errands", that included food shopping. I would bring them along as we would gather the necessities and and of course some treats for the week at our local grocery store. We noticed that there always seemed to be one vacant check out line at a cash register with an employee there at the ready to ring up a customer's tally. We learned quickly that the young man at this register was slow in scanning the items. He was always careful and deliberate but he was also slightly mentally disadvantaged and at times a supervisor would come along to help him "speed up." We always tried to get on his line and I would feel guilty if on a particular day I was rushed and thought of avoiding his line.
One very hot summer's day the food store's airconditioning didn't seem to bring much relief . One would need to stand in the frozen goods section and hold a bag of frozen vegetables if a cool down was desired. As we finished our aisle rounds and neared the check out I could hear this young man singing out loud Christmas carols over the store's piped in music. We got on line and started unloading our basket when I asked him why was he singing "Oh Come all ye' faithful." He immediately responded saying that he was singing Christmas songs to stay cool and to fend off the heat ! But then he added "Why do we have to sing Christmas carols only in December?" He must have been one of those "fanatics" that Charlie Brown's friend ,Lucy , worried about.
Wishing you and yours a peaceful and wonder- filled Christmas and New Years holiday!
Do they know it's Christmas ?
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime
But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging
chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you
And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?
(Here's to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here's to them) underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?
Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again
Feed the world!
- Remember those in need everywhere at Christmas and all year!