Even the name carries a hint of magic as it twirls through my thoughts stirring up wonderfully evocative memories of enchanting, never to be forgotten moments. I remember, as though it was yesterday, a snowy Christmas eve, my weary dad trying to shoo us to bed, his finger to his lips, whispering “Shh, can you hear it? Santa’s up there.” He pointed to the roof then and, wide-eyed with wonder, we stood perfectly still and listened. And through the quiet, I heard it, the unmistakable sound of Santa’s sleigh settling on our roof. My dad rushed to the window. “Hurry,” he beckoned, holding back the curtains. “You can see him.” And as I peered through the blackness, I spied a sudden flash as his sleigh took to the sky. The world had never held such magic, and I barely slept, as I kept my eyes open wide, and my ears listening for the first hint of Santa’s sleigh.
The magic of that long-ago night has remained with me throughout my adult life. For it is that enchanted, fairy-tale come true quality of Christmas that inspires me during these deep and dark winter nights. Who can resist the possibilities that Christmas offers – a crackling fire, a steaming mug of cocoa, precious time with family and friends?
But there is another side to the magic that stirs me, for in so many dark corners around the world, Christmas will pass unnoticed, just another day in misery for countless millions of refugees and displaced. Whether Christian or Muslim or Jew, from Africa to Afghanistan and beyond, the struggle to survive, to simply escape one’s tormentors, to find enough food to survive another day, to simply exist, will consume every bit of energy. There is no time to pause for quite reflection or celebration. There is barely time to breathe. In oft forgotten places like Yemen and Syria and South Sudan, there is no Christmas, no recognition that even battles have been known to pause on that day. But, the world is different these days. We huddle in our own corners, often forgetting what Christmas really means.
This holiday, as we celebrate the season, we will surely spend too much and inevitably we will eat too much as well. But we are a nation where goodness and kindness prevail, and I hope that we will take a moment to think about the 42 million refugees and displaced around the world. For if we take the time to shed some light on their misery and bring their situation into the light of day, perhaps together we can offer the promise that next year, there just might be Christmas and joy everywhere.