I’ve been wandering around in a bit of a daze this Christmas season. Sure, I hear the joyful songs playing almost obnoxiously in the stores, and I see the decorations on the streets. I smell the aroma of holly and taste the gingerbread cookies. I feel the chill of the cold. But my mind transcends my senses and drifts to another place.
My mind strays to the cruel cells in the prisons, where so many of our loved ones will sit this Christmas. It recalls the stories of the overdoses, which are becoming too numerous to keep track of even locally. I’m beginning to lose the memory of the faces of the people who have died, and the family members who are left behind. They are becoming numbers, mere statistics. I feel the heartache of the mothers and fathers frantically trying to save their children, mourning the loss of a child, and the anxious desperation of the children left behind as orphans. I know the sadness of the families that are shattered, wondering if they will ever be whole again.
This stark reality of Christmas is a far cry from the one that my senses observe. The truth that my mind knows doesn’t look or feel like the Christmas that is being flaunted at me, corrupting and confusing my senses. It can make me angry and bitter if I let it, but I won’t. I will rise above all of it and recall the true reality — the one that transcends even my mind. There is a light that eclipses the pains of this world and brings with it a peace that cannot be shaken.
The true gifts of Christmas are peace, joy, faith, hope, and love. We can’t purchase them, or bake them, or play them on the radio. They are not ours for the doing but ours to receive, even in times of misery. Joy can coexist with pain, if we let it. We can experience hope in despair and love even in loss. There is a light of hope that flickers even in the darkest of nights. It’s a fire that burns inside of you and me, but fire must be tended to, and its warmth must be shared.
If your light is burning brightly this Christmas season, please remember to tend to others’ lights. Don’t let them sit alone with just a small flicker remaining. Share your gifts and be present to others (and you will be a present!). Give birth to love this Christmas, and help others know the true gifts of the season through the great gift that has been given to you — your life.