Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas magic

I admit I am addicted to the Hallmark channel at Christmastime. I cannot get enough of those sappy Christmas movies that are often less than "B" quality. I watch as many as I can, usually with tissues nearby just in case a tear appears. Actually, who am I kidding — I cry during Coke commercials.

Perhaps the reason I love those movies so much is because they each have a special message of some kind of wonder, love, peace, magic, miracles, or hope that Christmas brings.

Maybe it is the journalist in me that continues to look for solid proof that something exists. Every year, I struggle with Christmas a little bit, trying to find proof of magic and miracles. Sometimes, just when I think I found it, the proof is snapped away by harsh reality as though someone switched from the Hallmark channel to CNN.

This week while in journalist mode I came across a story of a house fire. Not just a house fire, but one where arson is suspected and a suspect has been arrested. (See this weeks paper.) The reporter in me knows there is a history between several neighbors along that particular street. Watching the Sheriff's report every week, one can't help but notice the violence appears to be escalating in an around that particular neighborhood.

The house that burned down was somebody's home. In fact, it belonged to a family. Perhaps, not the perfect "Leave it to Beaver" family everyone hopes to read about at Christmas, but it is a family. And there were two small boys, ages 1 and 2, living in that house. Nobody was home when the fire started and no injuries were reported. It was one week before Christmas.

Learning of the family, I imagined those little boys waiting in anticipation for the arrival of Santa. Gifts had been purchased by the family. Some were perhaps wrapped and under the tree. Other gifts hidden in a closet to be marked from Santa.

Then, in a flash, pun intended, everything is gone. The hopes and wonder of Christmas for those two little boys — gone.

One week before Christmas I was looking for magic and wonder and instead found arson and children living in a hotel. Whether the parents of those boys are perfect or not perfect — innocent or not innocent — shouldn't be an issue. Whether they really bought — and then lost — presents for the kids or not, shouldn't be a question. The fact remains, the house that was once a home for those two little boys and their family home, is gone. All that they believed was a safe place to be is gone.

I saw friends and family members of the family affected by the fire, including the mother, working in the kitchen at the community center last Friday, making Indian tacos and selling them for a fundraiser — their own fundraiser. At first this struck me as odd, but when the mother of the boys told me everything was gone due to the fire and they were just trying to get enough to buy Christmas gifts, my heart went out to them. When I told others of the fundraiser, I was met with varied reactions. Many people could not see beyond the obvious history of the families involved to see the innocence of the little kids caught in the cross-fire.

We all want something special for Christmas. I don't mean just toys for the kids, or a new coffee machine, or a cordless drill or even something sparkly that comes in a little velvet box. Because it is not what is in the packages or whether or not you even get a package, that matters. It is the feeling you get in your heart simply knowing that someone thought of you. And that feeling is returned at least two-fold when you give to others and it comes from your heart. Helping others in any way, will help your heart grow “three times.”

Maybe because it is Christmas and I watch all of those sappy movies that seep into my soul that I begin to expect, or hope, or search, for a miracle or hope or wonder to come out of the sky and hit me like a bolt of lightening, or an angel come to visit, or hear the ringing of a bell. The realist in me says that is really not going to happen. Yet, I still look. I am still looking for magic. And miracles.

Albert Einstein said, "There are two ways to live life. One is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle." There are many things in the universe I believe in, even though I cannot see them, or touch them. I believe in miracles. I believe in Christmas. I believe in Jesus. And I believe in Santa Claus. And I am still looking for that Christmas miracle, magic, hope and wonder. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is that sometimes you don't need to know the answer.

“And he puzzled three hours, 'til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! 'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!' “ (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss, 1957 )

I know that the tears will run down my checks tonight as I sing Silent Night. I know that special feeling will hit me like a lightening bolt when I light that candle tonight at the candlelight service at church. I will say a prayer for those two little boys and their family and many other people as well. I know that the Spirit of Christmas will surround me and I will hold that in my heart as long as I can.

Peace and Merry Christmas.
"God bless us everyone."

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