Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Angels

Mentally going over my Christmas list, I reassured myself that I had not forgotten anyone. Still, an unshakeable feeling that something was forgotten haunted me. Of course I knew why that haunted feeling hung on despite all the gift wrapped packages safely hidden away. I just did not know what to do about it.

You see, our family had been struggling with the devastation of cancer for many months starting in July of 1988. My husband’s cancer had returned with a vengeance, and our three children had been diagnosed with the predisposition for this same hereditary cancer. My husband’s mother had died of it at the age of thirty-three. The outcome was bleak to say the least. We were still trying to cope with the on-going battle as well as the loss of my sister-in-law that October; she also had died at age thirty-three from cancer.

As Christmas approached, we tried to keep things normal for our children. Our family tradition had always been a joyous family affair. We would lavish decorations on our tree and the outside of our house and bake Christmas goodies in preparation. Then we would invite all the neighbors over for the lighting ceremony and enjoy cookies, hot chocolate and sing Christmas Carols.

This year there would be no real celebration; we were merely going through the motions. Gene was too ill to help with the outside lights so I went to the basement alone to retrieve them. He sorted the lights from the couch where he spent most of his time recouping from the latest surgery. Our kids were not in the Christmas spirit and they scattered to their bedrooms silently dealing with the pain in their own way.

Feeling no joy, I set up the nativity scene in the front yard by myself. It was merely tradition, with no hope of a better tomorrow. When all the lights, and decorations were finished and the tree adorned, we all came together to look at it, but turned away with heavy hearts. It looked like Christmas would not come to our house that year; maybe it would never come again. We pronounced it good enough and retired to our beds for the night. Silence shrouded our house and sleep brought little relief or sweet dreams.

The following morning we awoke to an icy-white out. A blizzard had blown through our area over night and dumped nearly three foot of snow. A heavy white blanket covered all of the outside decorations, leaving our nativity scene buried below the ice-encrusted front yard. One by one we looked out to see that the storm had wiped out what little joy I had tried to create. The desolation of Christmas was now complete. Our weak attempts had proved futile against nature both inside and outside our home. The nativity would stay buried and forlorn. We had no more energy left for pretending.

As we all moved toward our kitchen for a quiet breakfast, strange sounds drifted in from the other side of our living room picture window. The faintest jingle of laughter pierced the air. Each of us moved back toward the window, drawn like a magnet. We looked out into the yard again and saw a wondrous sight. There on their knees in the snow were three little angels. As we watched the scene unfold, more angels came to join them. They all wore mittens and giggled while they used their hands to dig the manger out of the snow. These particular angels looked very familiar though.

A little five-year old named Megan had brought a baby blanket in which to wrap the Christ child. As Megan wrapped and hugged the baby Jesus, neighbors had come and joined the children. They came to sing to the Christ child, to share their laughter and most of all their joy. They brought Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, Christmas carols and laughter. What they especially brought us was the Christmas tradition our own hearts could not muster. They awakened our hope in the Christ child and gave us strength to face the New Year. This special memory of Christmas, when God’s grace outshone the darkness and despair lives on in our hearts.

Copyright 1989




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