Sunday, December 16, 2012

We all need a little Christmas, right this very minute

We were out of town this weekend visiting Ryan's family and attending the wedding of his cousin. The wedding was absolutely lovely and the reception full of joy and laughter and kids running willy nilly and ordering Shirley Temples to their hearts' content from the bar. Ryan's parents made us so welcome, as always. They took care of the kids so we could sleep late, planned a special birthday dinner for James, took us out for a yummy brunch before we left this morning, and made us feel welcome in every possible way. It was a great weekend.

But in the quiet moments, my heart was heavy. I learned Thursday evening that one of my dearest friends is going through something awful. I walked around Friday morning, crushed with sadness for her, trying to pick out something to send as a gift. Something that might cheer her up for a moment, but having no idea what that might be. Finally I picked out a few things and drove home to box them up. And then I heard the news from Connecticut.

And the world ceased to make sense.

I ached for my friend all weekend. I ached for those parents in Connecticut who were missing their babies. It was not an easy weekend, though it was fun.

And then tonight, back at home, I put dinner on the table and gathered everyone around and got out the lighter to light the Advent Candles. The kids recited the words as I lit them. The first one was for "hope". The second one was for "peace". And the third one, tonight's candle, the pink one, was for "joy".

I snarled in my mind, "Hope? Peace? Joy? SERIOUSLY?"

The events of the last three days seem totally at odds with the message of the Christmas season.

We continued with the ritual, asking the kids to reflect on those words and what they mean to them. They gave the usual, cute, funny, thoughtful (in some cases) answers and then resumed shoveling forkloads of shells and cheese into their mouths and laughing and joking and trying to blow the candles just hard enough to make the flames dance but not go out. It was a nice meal. We sang Christmas carols by candlelight around the piano afterward.

But I remained in a funk all through bedtime until I came back downstairs and opened up Facebook. Right there at the top someone had posted the words to one of my favorite Christmas songs:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And then I remembered (again) that hope, peace, and joy in a dark, scary, chaotic world is exactly the point of Christmas. And for that I am grateful.



Brooke said...

My great-aunt sent me a Christmas card with that song typed out and tucked inside it last year. I display that little piece of paper all year round.

Chiconky said...

I've never heard that song before. It's lovely, and so perfect right this moment.

Kyla said...

Yeah, that is exactly the point. Christ didn't come to light a brightly shining world, He came to bring light into our darkness. Someone else mentioned yesterday that He was born at a time when babies were being slaughtered left and right...there has always been such darkness in the world, we just (thankfully) forget about it some of the time.

Rima said...

Peace to you and yours, Becca.


LL said...

"And the world ceased to make sense." That is exactly how I felt. I still can't read anything about it. I've cried more at work in 3 days than all my 4 years of working combined. Your title is exactly right though. I had moments of guilt for enjoying such silliness and fun with my kids this weekend as we decorated cookies while parents on the other side of the US are living a nightmare, and yet, that is what we need to do. Keep living, love our children, reflect, experience Christmas-- and pray for those in Connecticut and for our leaders to figure out what we can do to prevent things like this from happening again.

Merry Christmas to you and yours Becca.

sarah said...

Beautiful post.

Nora said...

A beautiful post on a rough, rough weekend. Take joy where you can. We're reading lots of simple things, like Tasha Tudor, Katie Morag, and Little House. That takes care of the kids. I'm a whole different story.