A CHRISTMAS WISH
Christmas has always been a difficult time of year for me. It’s no secret that I come from a challenged family, and Christmas did not bring out the best in us. Looking back on my childhood, my fondest memories were formed in the days leading up to Christmas — my father on a ladder, whistling happily as he strung Christmas lights along the eaves, the day the tree was delivered and how the house suddenly smelled like a forest. When colored lights blinked and glowed from the tree, the living room became my favorite room in the house. I didn’t care so much about the presents in colorful wrapping paper and ribbons placed beneath the branches, I just liked the lights.
Sometimes, late at night when everyone slept, I would tip-toe out to the living room, turn the tree lights on, and just sit there staring at them. They made me feel warm inside… hopeful. On those nights, I’d think about my favorite part of the Nativity story — the Star of Bethlehem burning bright in the east and guiding the wise men to Jesus. I wished for a star that bright to guide me, but every time I looked at the night sky, all the stars looked pretty much the same. Still, I believed in the story. I believed there was a celestial sign that led men across the desert to witness a miracle.
My wish this year for those I know, and those I don’t, is that we all look for a star — in whatever form — to guide us to who we are supposed to be. To “the better angels of our nature.” Because, right now, in this country and elsewhere, we’re not doing so well on that front. It’s insanity to pillage and destroy this fragile blue ball we call earth. This is our home and we’re destroying it. When we find an individual who has turned their home into a toxic pit of waste and trash, we take steps to remove them and get them help. We recognize that they’re ill. Yet on a grand scale, that’s what we’re doing to this earth. It’s insanity to think that a divided country, with racism and anti-semitism piling into our streets in ways most of us haven’t seen in our lifetimes, will be a successful country.
Maybe if each of us pledged to take a few moments to look at the stars, or Christmas lights, or a flickering candle, and ponder why we were put here, and who we are meant to be in this life, the usual cacophony of the season would fade and Peace on Earth would be more than a Hallmark slogan. It might actually be something we come to believe in. And we might realize that it starts in each individual heart.