Growing up, my mom would have to go to work every Christmas for a good portion of the day with the rare exception of it being on a Sunday. Our family would celebrate early on Christmas Eve with each child opening a single present. Truth be told, most times I had already sneaked a peek earlier in the week. My gift was rarely ever a surprise and yet I was still filled with joy and anticipation leading up to Christmas Eve.
Now that I'm a mother, the magic of Christmas has been in watching my daughter's growing delight each year and in gathering with our family and dear friends. This season, my heart is also with those parents and families whose pain is so great. There seems to be no greater heartache than the loss of a child or other loved one and the saddest word will always be "goodbye." So where do we find the magic amidst the cloud of sadness?
It is in the warmth of a generous heart, in the gift of forgiveness, acceptance and tolerance of differences. It is in every act done with kindness and love. It is in the beautiful moments and precious memories that will forever remain long after the day is gone. It is in our continued trust in the goodness of life. It is in the calming of unsupported fears. It is in knowing that even in the shadow of hopelessness, there will always be a light of hope shining nearby.
This Christmas, the magic can still be found when we wrap others in the energy of our love. When we imagine those who no longer walk among us, having been welcomed into a new way of life with God's loving embrace. It is when we somehow find the strength to endure the most difficult days and re-discover a sense of peace and experience joy once again.
This Christmas, may each of you be given the gifts that matter most of all. May God's abiding love, peace and joy be yours this Christmas and always.