When emails are forwarded to 117 people, I tend to delete them, no matter how much amusement, amazement, or inspiration they promise.
Recently, however, I succumbed to one that contained descriptions of love written by children.
Seven-year-old Bobby supplied an unforgettable response: “Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas, if you stop opening presents and listen.”
As I read his words, I recognized their truth: during the rushed holiday season, when I open completely to a moment, I sometimes feel the love he described.
I remember riding home in a crowded car from my grandmother’s Christmas Eve party. A glossy meringue of snow swirled across moonlit fields as I searched an unending sky, hoping to find the Christmas star.
I held a sleeping baby, Blaine, in my arms; he stirred, then melted back into me. I felt joy: unbidden, complete, unexplainable.
Another Christmas, I stood in frosted air outside our church after a community party, clutching a small paper bag filled with hard candy and peanuts Santa had given me. I looked across the street at the roof of our elementary school, where blue lights spelled “Noel” against the night’s black-velvet wrap.
“It’s a beautiful world,” I thought, “so beautiful.”
When I was older, Dad, Barbara and I danced wildly to Fats Domino singing “Blueberry Hill” on the record player Santa brought.
We pranced and twirled and laughed. At one point, a self-conscious teenager, I ducked my head so the others wouldn’t see the love of family that suddenly swept me.
Home from college for the holidays, I took a late walk with my mother on Christmas Eve. A car crept along the snow-bound street. Its headlights battled snowflakes; its trunk lid bounced high; and a giggling woman drove carefully.
As the car passed, a man wearing a Santa hat, yelled, “Merry Christmas,” from inside the open trunk where he sat, anchoring a pair of bicycles with bright red bows attached.
I treasure that Norman Rockwell moment: laughing parents sneaking home with their children’s Christmas bicycles.
I’ll never forget our 10-year-old grandson showing his friends a Christmas card with two photographs: a young girl deformed by a cleft palate and the same child with a radiant smile.
We’d made a donation to Smile Train, which sponsored her surgery, in the name of our grandchildren, and wondered how they’d react.
“Look at this,” Jack said to his buddies, “This is the best. For Christmas, we helped the doctors fix her mouth. That’s pretty cool.”
When I moved to Craig in the fall of 1996, I walked to and from my job at the district administration building on Yampa.
Being new in my position and having much to learn, I left early, often walking through our quiet neighborhood before sunrise. One December morning, the Christmas star that graces the Sandrocks surprised me.
I stopped in the snow-hushed darkness to enjoy it and felt my heart open to Christmas and my new community. Each year, I anticipate my first glimpse of the star.
Often these days, as I sit in the living room early in the morning, sipping coffee and talking with Joel in the glow of our Christmas tree, a feeling of happiness sneaks up on me and fills me completely, before disappearing into the routines of the day.
No other holiday scatters brilliant diamonds of hope and love and faith among us as does Christmas: moments when we recognize our blessings, feel love for one another, and believe in the goodness of ourselves and others.