When writing a Christmas post on a site most frequented by religionists who stress the importance of family, you know most people who read the post are doing so after Christmas. (Those reading on Christmas Day itself are probably using the excuse of checking out new electronics that Santa brought by in the morning. Well, it works!)
For my wife and me, this is our first Christmas as true empty nesters. Our daughter will not arrive home from an out of town trip until Sunday, so the presents sit unopened until Sunday when we can celebrate together. We’re just going to pretend that tonight is Christmas Eve.
It’s nice to be able to treat Christmas as any day you wish — but, then, isn’t that a point of Christmas, to make it so close to our hearts that it becomes a way of life?
We never know when we’re marching to Bethlehem because something wonderful is about to be born.
My wife has two behaviors I simply can not explain. First, whenever there are two parking spaces, one behind the other, she always parks in the one behind. She does this even though, when she comes out later she must awkwardly back out of the space without visibility instead of simply driving out of the front space. She does the same thing at gas station pumps.
Second, she often starts talking to people about whatever she is thinking at that particular instant, without realizing her thoughts are now audible. I’ve had many conversations with her that simply started seemingly out of mid air and had nothing to do with the subject of the moment.
These two behaviors came together to produce something of a Christmas miracle one day in mid-2009. She stopped at a gas station while driving me home from a doctor’s appointment. Although there were two pumps open, she stopped the car at the second in line instead of driving through, thereby blocking anyone from using the other pump.
As soon as she stopped the engine and got out of the car, she saw the angry expression on the face of the driver behind her and realized her mistake. So she moved the car forward and got back out of the car to apologize.
The apology couldn’t go on for more than a few seconds, of course, before she was pouring out the story of what she had been thinking about to this complete stranger she didn’t know from Adam. And what she had been thinking about was finding a way to expand the focus of the foundation she’d started originally to bring the healing ministry of music to breast cancer patients. She now felt led to get music to wounded soldiers and their families. The impress of what she was to do was clear enough, but the how was impenetrable. You don’t just dial up Secretary Gates and make an appointment.
And that’s when the miracle happened. This perfect stranger turned out to be a high civilian employee in the Veterans Administration’s chief Business Office, and someone who was passionately concerned with getting support to wounded soldiers. By the time the gas tank was filled, my wife had in her hand the man’s business card at the VA and a promise of introductions to the heads of the volunteer organizations supporting the troops (especially the wounded) at bases throughout the continental US and forward-deployed to active or potential theaters of war.
So, by this Christmas, my wife’s foundation recorded, edited, printed, packed, and shipped 2200 CD’s filled with classical, popular, rock, and holiday musical performances by American children of many cultures and religious backgrounds who want to do something to help those who protect them. In many cases these children now have or have had family members of their own on the front lines.
The climax of this project for my wife came last week when she was invited to come to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to decorate and place CDs under the Christmas tree for the Christmas party for soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan undergoing rehabilitation with prosthetics. It drove home to her the price the lack of peace on earth really imposes.
And so Christmas will be tomorrow this year. And the day after that. And the day after that. And the next day.
And we will continue to look for Christmas miracles on each of those days, and the days to come, until the Kingdom itself is born.