Dressed in black and white, the young tunesmiths from the East Millbrook Magnet Middle School orchestras and bands tapped their feet methodically, their cheeks red from moving their bows or blowing their horns. A joyful concert they made in the weeks before Christmas, with parents and grandparents and family and friends gathered in the auditorium of a school whose population reflects a cross-section of this community. Here, on these nights, with proud mamas and papas just beaming, was a grand gathering of folks from all backgrounds, of all incomes, with all challenges large and small, brought together on two nights to be entertained by their children and to be proud of them.
The musicians went home to small houses and mansions, to single parents and small families or two parents and a houseful of kids, to poverty and to affluence, to happiness and sadness. But on these nights, for those minutes on stage and with their friends afterward, they were brought together in celebration of a glorious season. Is this not what today, Christmas Day, is all about?
Yes, it is a day of gratitude, the most profound of Christian celebrations, but it’s a day when even that child with humble gifts under the tree (and may all children have something) can smile and grasp that toy and enjoy and just be happy. And it is a day of more profound gratitude as well, from the family with a soldier home for the first time in a long time to the children who’ve helped an elderly parent pull through a bout of illness to families who’ve mended fences and joined together in peace around the breakfast table.
Others, of course, will worry this day about their own members of the armed forces far from home or about those in their families in nursing homes or hospitals. Joys are more intense at Christmas, but burdens seems to be heavier.
Somehow, though, most of us will find a moment in this day to laugh or to cry in happiness at some memory of long ago, a thought of a special Christmas. And we’ll hope, as we watch children and grandchildren open their gifts and laugh and scream and play about, that they, too, will one day years hence be remembering something special about a Christmas of their own.
For Christmas is a touchstone, one of life’s bookmarks, that calls up in us our most vivid and special memories.
Let us hope that, before the day is through, we will have taken more than a few minutes for gratitude. For Christians, that means celebrating the birth of their savior. But for us all, it means being thankful for blessings of kin, for warmth, for togetherness, for the little joys as well as the big ones.
It means giving thanks for the doctors and nurses who are working today, for the ambulance drivers who are giving up time with their families, for our teachers who are getting ready, even now, for the next semester, for our troops to be sure, for those who brought us those Christmas cards, for the neighbor who offered a kind word when we needed it, for all those in our lives who smile when they don’t feel like it, who offer us words of encouragement when they need it more than we do, who encounter us every day and are taken for granted but still make our lives better.
Let’s hope we take a Christmas vow to give someone who’s not expecting it a kind word today. There’s a Christmas tradition everyone can accept!
Let’s hope we think of those who need help and offer it through time or contribution today. Anyone want to sign on for that tradition?
Let’s hope we share a child’s joy today, not just from watching children play but from playing with them, from showing them we care. The line forms here for that tradition.
So, arise, dear friends, and let the Spirit in!
And to those young charges at East Millbrook, may your lives, and the lives of all those young musicians who entertained so well in this Christmas season, be filled with music and lightness of heart and hope in the days and years ahead. May the notes of this day, musical and otherwise, be as sweet as those you played to welcome this season.