When Kathy and I look back over this Christmas season, I think our single most precious moment will not actually be from either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day – but rather from the night of the 23rd, when we ventured out with the Amborns, Palmers and Wallers into the snow and wind for our annual night of Christmas caroling. Mother Nature managed to keep our itinerary to a bare minimum (typically we carol to at least eight or nine places- or even more) but at least we managed to bring at least a little bit of unexpected joy to three people- our friend Henrietta (whose recent mishap I blogged about on the 22nd) – and two other friends (one named Sharon, the other Carol) who are contending with cancer.
It’s not that a few Christmas carols can cure cancer – or even beat back its symptoms. But there is something about showing up at someone’s door on a cold winter’s night and singing songs to them which says “You are loved” better than those three actual words ever could. What could be more important than that? And although we could show up on our friend’s doorstop in April and sing “it might as well be spring” and make them smile, Christmas carols do something more than that. They take us back to the happiest moments of our lives – and back to when life was so much simpler. . . back to the days when we could not even conceive of something like cancer crowding its way into our lives. But Christmas is more than a journey back to our childhood joys. Christmas is also about Hope . . . because nothing says Hope like that little baby born in a barn. . . or that splendid star illumining the night. . .
(Which brings to mind the home of our other friend, Carol, and the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling Christmas decorations filling their living room, dining room, and for all we know the rest of their house as well. Someone else living under the shadow of cancer might choose to shroud their house in mournful gray- but not Carol and her husband. If anything, they Decked The Halls even more joyously than they normally do, and we probably drew as much inspiration from that as she and her husband did from our caroling.)
So anyway, for all the wonderful gifts Kathy and I have both given and received over this Christmas season, nothing we gave or received can compare to the beauty of that moment when tears and hugs were exchanged on our good friend’s doorstep, amidst the falling snow. As I saw that beautiful sight, all I could think to myself was “it is so good to be alive – and it’s because of moments exactly like this that it is so good.”
Love and Joy come to you. . . and to you glad Christmas too
and God bless you and send you a happy new year.
I wish it were in our power to guarantee to those we love that the coming year will offer up only happier days and better times. But it is not possible to know that or promise that. But whatever the future holds for us or for those we care about, all we can do is love each other as God has called us to do. . . to lift one another up when life lays us low . . . and to chase away the darkness and the cold with our singing and our songs.
pictured above: caroling for our dear friend, Sharon. She is standing in the doorway of her home, and you can see her husband’s arms wrapped around her, keeping her warm. Facing the camera is Paula Heide Waller and my wife Kathy and closest to the camera is Steve Palmer.