My dear, sweet children –
Here I sit, with Christmas Eve around the corner, and I can scarcely believe it has been six months since I felt your hands in mine, savored your burrowed sweetness.
I love this time of year, always have. For the world around me seems more luminous, not just with the festooning of lights but because a flicker of incandescence seems to flare wherever I turn: in the cheery greetings exchanged among strangers and in their kindness; in the wonder that befalls so many of us, even before the familiar and traditional; in the smiles and the laughter and the tide of grace that carries us all, our hearts a little more open, a little more generous, a little more yielding to hope and the triumph of good.
I admit in recent years, I have carried deep sadness during the holidays, as well. The loss of my dad, along with a dear father figure, both in the last four years, looms large, despite my succumbing to the revelry and giddy anticipation that abound.
But these are not my preoccupations as I sit here in the glow of Christmas lights, the air scented with pine, a mug of steaming cocoa in hand and George Winston saluting December as only he can.
I am thinking of all of you, as I have been ceaselessly since I left you in June. Though there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t missed you, haven’t wondered at the turning of time in your hands, the distance between us has felt wider than ever this month.
There are some who insist Christmas is only for children, and while I believe it gifts the child in all of us, I cannot help longing for you to know its magic. I’ve carried you through so many moments in the last few weeks, as I’ve taken in all of my favorite light displays, marveled at the winterscapes and scenes from Charlie Brown dressing department store windows, sailed through quaint shops and bustling supermarkets filled with friends and families in search of the ultimate gift.
When I volunteered at the annual holiday party thrown by Rubye’s Kids, an organization working to empower children living in poverty, I imagined your faces as you walked through the door, with such an extravagance of festivity before you. And though I cry every year I’m there, moved as much by the joy and awe on all those little faces as I am by the gathering of so many committed to making a difference in those kids’ lives, I cried for you, too: for the Christmases you’ve never known and may not know still, for your empty hands and empty stomachs, for the love that is a slow and intermittent seeping in your lives.
If I could this Christmas, I would fly to you. I would be the crazy lady intercepted at customs for traveling with a tree and all its trimmings and a Santa-sized sack, impatient to provide you with even a glimmer of the comfort and joy that have always been mine this season.
I know, and am grateful, that you will not be forgotten. I appreciate that wonderful organizations like KATz Volunteer Adventure, my hosts when I was with you in Tanzania, have organized drives and fundraisers to provide you with food, a few treats and toys, and from photos I have seen, perhaps even a visit from Santa. And I have contributed to those efforts.
But what I want more than anything, even though I would happily spoil you rotten, too, is for you to know the gift you are. For you to awake, from a contented slumber on Christmas morning, with loving arms to greet you. To know that your face has eclipsed even the morning’s sun or parted every shadow. I want your name to fall from lips of adoration, for the hours to spoon a feast of celebrating you.
You, my loves, carry the eternal spirit of Christmas: with your hope and joy and open hearts. In the midst of the most humble and harrowing of circumstances, not unlike another child born to us so long ago, you shine with incomparable light.
And this year, you have been my greatest gift. So though I cannot be with you, I want you to know you are the song that fills the sky, the miracle that has forever changed me.
I love you. I miss you. And though it may take a while, I am following the star that will, one day, lead me back to you.
Merry Christmas. xoxoxoxo
Note to readers: click the “Merry Christmas” link above for a special card created for my lovelights at Save Africa and Cradle of Love. Wishing you and yours a holiday season illuminated by grace, with love the sweetest gift you unwrap, over and over again.