Joy In The Midst Of Upheaval

Christmas is four days away…are you feeling the Cheer? It is a lovely day with 50 degrees and a brilliant Sun in the sky. Last-minute Christmas shopping seems to be booming if the traffic is any barometer. I heard a newscaster say that Christmas Sales are forecast to be record-breaking. I remember my childhood when I felt fortunate to hear a Christmas song or two on the regular radio…and to see, what my mom called Scrooge…once a season if lucky…and then after my bedtime. Now I enjoy satellite radio and have seven different stations dedicated to Christmas in all of its genres…and Christmas movies on television at almost anytime that I want to view them…including DVDs.

Mom took out of the closet tabletop Christmas Tree for most of my teenage years at home with her and my step-father. She would laugh and point to its display with some personal pride and announce, ‘This is my Christmas Tree!’ From Thanksgiving until Christmas mom instructed MJ and I and later Aaron and Jonathon…to not visit her on our customary Saturdays…as she would be deep in the midst of preparing for Christmas. We often speculated how it took a month to prepare with the table-top Christmas Tree and a little house cleaning and one Roast Beef Christmas Dinner to prepare. But we obeyed our instructions. On Christmas Day there would be the most succulent Roast Beef and cornbread that would melt in your mouth and mom’s Famous Coffee Cake…that she only prepared on Christmas…and not every Christmas. Uncle Ed would be there with his cherubic face and wandering eye…and uncle Bill was sitting and grinning and moving his tongue in and out of his mouth…as a nervous tick… In later years Aaron and Jonathon were the stars of the show. They both received a plethora of gifts and love from everyone and their little eyes showed with the joys of Christmas. This was about the time that we discovered the joys of wine… Earlier we had been a bunch of non-alcohol people…believing that our abstinence had brought us a bit closer to God than those Wine Bibbers… However, we saw the light…and Christmas became more warm and comforting and cheer was discovered among natural enemies…

This year…as every year before it…the age-old question is being asked…’Does it feel like Christmas to you?’ Or you may hear the variant…with apologies to Covid…’Are you feeling the Christmas Spirit…are you feeling cheerful?’ There is no easy answer to this dilemma…the answer lay within each of us. The Spirit of Christmas usually comes to me in one or two or three moments…often fleeting… One year…many years ago…I was at a Christmas performance at Shryock Auditorium on the Campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. The three Wisemen were involved and I was taken by surprise when, although we were sitting at the back of the House, the deep resonate voice of one of the Wisemen began to sing…just over my shoulder…and the hair stood up on on the back of my neck…I was in the zone… Or last year we took a tour of the Fox Theatre in St. Louis and the performer portraying Dickens’s The Ghost Of Christmas Present…began to sing…and it was suddenly real to me…Christmas was real… Or for several years we traveled to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to join our friends, Faye and Steve, to share a Condo. We customarily left Salem, Illinois after Christmas Dinner with Ron and Mary Jane and Tara and Mrs. Moore…and Mike and Paige and Tyler. I was standing with Steve on the balcony of the Condo and looking at the majestic Smokie Mountains…and it was just about midnight on Christmas…and I felt the awesome beauty of our shared Holiday…

Difficult time bark at our heels like the ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’…but they always have. The Joy of the Season…The Miracle of the Birth of Jesus…The Hope of Mankind…is waiting for each of us…to open our heart…as it has always been there…waiting for us…

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