It is Christmas day
A day for joy and hope
And yet, the season’s carols do not drown out the worries of our lives
Nor does its beauty distract fully from our sorrows
May this day be filled with light
The light of the slowly lengthening days
The light of comfort and love
And the light of hope
That illuminates and makes possible the future we seek
by Betty Pingel
What meaning does Christmas have for us? Its deepest meaning […] lies in its being the annual rebirth of hope. Set at the darkest time of the year, the time when days are shortest, Christmas is an annual reminder that days will become longer, that warmth and growth can give us the metaphor for articulating the hope in the cycles of human life. Darkness, despair, death in our lives will give way to light, to life, and to rebirth.
Christmas permits us to bring forth the child in all of us; it is always a celebration of children.
Through songs, bells, and bright colours we express our belief in the joy and unity of humankind.
by Alfred S. Cole
Christmas is a most illogical season[…] Like Santa’s reindeer, it takes a leap up from the old earth, plagued as it is with human hates and fears, and drenches us with a shower of the most amazing dreams and hopes we could possibly imagine. It is not a matter of atomic bombs, guided missiles and weapons of death, and the stories of our inhumanity, but something totally different. The leaders of states and the politicians bow out, and a child takes over, a child symbolizing the continual rebirth of hope and life. The embers of old, forgotten dreams are blown into flame again, and we see then in the clear, white light that we are all companions on this amazing star.
Message, by Andy Pakula
(Man Who Was Willing To Risk Wishing, The by Wayfarer Tomm)
Some time is like other time but no other time is like Christmas time.
One time just before Christmas Howard was sitting at the kitchen table of his home in a quiet country town. The little house seemed so much bigger to him now that Rose was no longer with him. Rose would have known what to do with the Santa outfit that the school had sent him.
Howard didn't mind storytelling in costume, but the outfit the school had sent to him didn't even have real boots. There was only plastic imitation boot tops and if he was going to appear as Santa He wanted at least to look real. Howard hated the look of disappointment n the eyes of the little ones when they found that Santa was really only another one of "Santa's helpers", when they had hoped to see the real one.
He knew how easy it was for children to grow up and let life's disappointments cause them to grow out of wishing. He knew that not all wishes came true, but as Rose would say "If you don't wish, none of your wishes will ever come true." Howard did not want to be one more disappointment on the children's road to adulthood.
Howard wished that he could be the real Santa the children needed to see. Howard knew that if Rose were here she would knew what to do with the outfit and Rose would know what to do with him. He could see her now with a comb and brush, a needle and thread. A nip here and a tuck there, the wig combed the beard brushed, all the while telling him that if he believed in himself other people would believe in him also. Rose might no longer be there to help him, but Howard knew that he would never be without her love. Rose would have asked "What do you wish to happen?" and when he told her, she would say "Well, let's work on it like we believe that wishes come true and Howard remembered his wish that he could be the real Santa that the children needed to see. He had only four hours left before he would ride on top of the town's shining old fire truck to the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the school yard and as he rode into that circle of light that evening with the cold air flowing through his hair and beard he was beginning to feel as Santa would feel at the helm of his grand old sled.
There was the smell of snow soon to be coming and a ring around the moon. The people who had come to the town's tree lighting ceremony had been singing carols and enjoying the warmth of being together. Mac the driver tooted the horn and sounded the siren and Santa was arriving right on schedule.
As he stepped from the truck he was greeted by Ms. Amanda Lee, the school's official greeter and unofficial guard against sixth grade boys who might seek to show their bravery and challenge the reality of their world by tugging on Santa's beard. All went well as he moved through the crowd, giving gentle waves to the smallest ones and hardy waves to the old timers. Into the auditorium he went, on to the stage to be seated on a throne made of hay bales fresh from a barn. As he waited for the town's people to be seated he looked into the eyes of those looking at him. In some eyes he saw wonder and in others he saw memories and in the smaller ones he saw the hint of awe.
When everyone had been seated and Ms. Amanda Lee had led everyone in singing "Jingle Bells" and quiet reigned while breaths were regained. Howard raised both hands in the air and asked "What do you want enough that you would be willing to risk wishing for it?". Howard watched the question sink in and in some eyes he saw sadness and in others wonder and in some joy. Howard said "I wish to tell you a story of a young man who was willing to risk wishing" with that as an introduction he started into his story.
"In a time"***He said,*** "not unlike this time" In the land where the forest meets the open plains and there are no trees from the forest edge to the snow lands to the north. In this land lived Ooe and Ooe was old enough to have chosen a clan to join and young enough not to have been chosen by a clan.
Ooe went first to the Clan of the Rabbit and wishing them friendship and peace asked if he could join their clan. The Rabbits said to Ooe, Ooe you are a nice person, but you are neither fast nor agile and we really don't feel that you will fit in the Rabbit clan. We are sure that there must be a clan that will fit you better.
Ooe went next to the Clan of the Turtle and wishing them friendship and peace he asked if he could join their clan. The Turtles said to Ooe, Ooe you are a nice person, but you have never traveled nor are you old enough to have found wisdom. We have spoken about this among ourselves and we must tell you to sound out the other clans we are sure there is a clan that you will harmonize with.
Ooe went then to the Clan of the Snow Geese and wishing them friendship and peace he asked if he could join their clan. The Geese said to Ooe, Ooe you are a nice person, but you are short and as wide as you are tall and we can not see how any could look at you and see the sleek beauty of a Snow Goose. We are sure that if you continue looking you will focus on a clan that will seem perfect for you.
***As Howard watched the people be drawn into the story, he saw their movements quiet and their breathing flow together so that they began to breath as one.***
Ooe *** Howard said*** went to speak to the clan of the Bear and wishing them friendship and peace he asked if he could join their clan. The Bears said to Ooe, Ooe you are a nice person, if only you were bigger and taller. We would love to have you but we know that you will be more comfortable with others more like yourself so keep searching and we are sure you will find a clan,
And even though Foxes are required to be devious and tricky Ooe went to the Clan of the Fox and wishing them friendship and peace he asked if he could join their clan. The Foxes said to Ooe., Ooe you are just the type of person who we would want to have in our clan but we are at full membership just now and have a rather long waiting list we are sure that the other clans who are just waiting for you to ask.
Nothing like this had ever happened before; no one had ever been refused by all of the clans before. So the leaders of all the clans met in secret conference to decide which clan would have to accept Ooe. After much discussion and loud talking and almost even a fight between the Rabbit and the Goose this is what they decided and that very night told to Ooe. "Ooe" they said "we cannot have among us one who was not a member of a clan and since you have not been chosen by a clan then you must leave us and go out into the world on your own.
*** From the furrowing of brows and the tightening of lips on many faces in the crowd Howard could see that many didn't approve of the councils decision. Howard continued on with the story. ***
So Ooe left that very evening wishing to them friendship and peace to all and to all a good night, but only those with peace and friendship in their hearts heard him.
As Ooe traveled out into that cold and windy night it began to snow and the farther that Ooe traveled the colder and windier and snowier it got and Ooe could find no shelter. Ooe traveled that night and the next day and into the next night. All alone except for the cold and the wind and the snow which followed him wherever he went. Ooe was not able to find any shelter and even though he knew better then to lie down in the snow when he was cold and tired, he was so tired that he lay down in the snow. It was said among Ooe's people that no one ever woke up from sleeping under a blanket of snow.
Ooe could not stay awake and he dropped into a deep sleep and while sleeping he dreamt of warmth and softness.
*** Howard watched as mothers held their babies closer and grandparents unconsciously reached for the hands of their grandchildren and he continued saying.***
" Ooe did awaken in the morning and when he woke he found that he had in the night been surrounded by a small herd of reindeer and it was their warmth that had kept him alive through the night".
That morning Ooe was so weak from hunger and exhaustion that he could barely move and it took all the intelligence of these amazing reindeer to get Ooe to understand that they wanted him to get on the back of one of them. But finally he did understand and with their gentle help he was able to climb aboard the largest reindeer and hold unto it's antlers as it started to prance through the snow, it seemed to Ooe that he must still be dreaming because it looked as though the reindeer were prancing over the snow and then through the air and although he knew it was impossible it even seemed that they were flying over the frozen hills and mountains until they came to rest in front of the strangest dwelling that Ooe had ever seen.
The dwelling was made of logs stacked one on another and up one side was a pile of stone which had smoke coming from the top and there were openings in the logs that were covered with what looked like a sheet of ice that Ooe could look through and see a fire glowing warmly at the bottom of the rock pile. One of the deer walked to the log wall and rattled his antlers against a part of the wall which opened to reveal a kindly faced woman who gestured to Ooe to enter. When Ooe entered the woman guided him to the fire and offered him a place to sit and gave him a large bowl of delicious stew which Ooe ate before falling asleep in the warm glow of the fire.
When Ooe awoke he saw seated across from him the friendliest looking gentleman that Ooe had ever seen and even though Ooe had never seen this man before the man began to speak to Ooe in the language of Ooe's tribe.
*** Howard saw that all eyes were focused on him, but he did not know that the people weren't seeing him, but were seeing instead the gentleman of whom he spoke.***
The gentleman spoke of friendship and of peace and of the clan of reindeer, of traveling to many lands, of visiting many peoples and Ooe listened carefully. When the gentleman spoke of spreading joy and happiness throughout the world, Ooe could picture the happy joyful faces of children of all ages and saw how worthwhile that would be.
When the gentleman spoke of spreading the message of goodwill and friendship and of peace to all peoples, Ooe felt how important is was to help in this great work. When the gentleman invited Ooe to join the reindeer clan, Ooe said yes. On the Magical Nights when the old gentleman travels throughout the world bringing toys and joys and the message of goodwill to all. Ooe rides in the sleigh drawn by the Magical Reindeer helping the old gentleman and between visits Ooe loads the sack of gifts to be delivered at each home. When they leave each home and the old gentleman calls out" Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night ". If you listen carefully as those who care about such things do. You can hear Ooe wish friendship and peace to all and to all a good night.
When He finished with the story there was no applause, only silence. When he rose and waved farewell, the returning waves were few and feeble. When he wished them friendship and peace to all and to all a good night, they rose almost as one and returned his wish and as he left he could see them turning to their families and neighbors and wishing friendship and peace to all. There are those who say that after he had gone there was the sound of sleigh bells and a tiny voice clearly saying friendship and peace to all and to all good night.
The world around us is not like Christmas would tell us it is. It is not all splendidly decorated trees. It is not all coloured lights and carols sung in perfect harmony. It is not all shared with the warmth of loving families and friends.
But Christmas does have an important message for us - the message of hope. The message of possibility.
It is worth the risk to wish. not all wishes came true, but "If you don't wish, none of your wishes will ever come true."
This Christmas and all your day, dare to wish. Dare to hope. Dare to love.
It is more than worth the risk.
Not all wishes came true, but "If you don't wish, none of your wishes will ever come true."
This is the essence of our hope for the future
Hope is having the daring to risk a bold wish for a brighter tomorrow
And then, having wished, to work to make it so
May this Christmas usher in new time of hope
For our troubled world