I tend to be a bit of a strange blend of Scrooge and the Grinch at this time of year. Just a bit.
I am not sure if it is because of less daylight (I would not make a good Inupiat), or if it is because it just does not get cold enough, soon enough in Texas for me to get that Christmas spirit.
What I do remember, with fondness, is the joy our kids got out of Christmas each year, no matter where we were, even south of the equator in Kenya. And I remember reading a variety of Christmas books to them in the evenings in the days before Christmas. They would snuggle up on my lap, or cuddle with Judy as one of us would read. There is almost a genre here—these types of books are pretty close to formulaic: it is nearly Christmas, there is snow on the ground; something bad has happened (or is about to happen); some kid is hungry, destitute or in dire straights (you can throw in a lost dog); at the last possible moment the kid gets what he needs or wants; and then the he/she gives away whatever he/she cherishes most in the spirit of the season. It is enough to bring tears to my eyes right now. Yours too?
Almost always the last line in the book is something like: “And it was the best Christmas ever.”
Let’s get one thing straight. The “best Christmas ever” was the first one that makes all the rest of them as good as they are.
As much as I have enjoyed many, many Christmases , this one is going to be rather special. If it were a kid’s book it would seem a tad too fictional.
The story is a real heartbreaker. Little girl with cancer—a particularly vicious cancer. Many operations. 3 recurrences. No hope—none. Funeral in the planning. One sister in med-school training to be a doctor and the other sister in the process of becoming a nurse so they can help others like their older sister who’s been so ill. But wait. Even though the chemo didn’t work, and the radiation didn’t work, and the surgery didn’t work, one last ditch operation is done. Heroic doctors. Oh my, the little girl, now a grown woman, survives! Christmas is coming. And she once again actively plans to do what she has wanted to do all along—go to some land far away and help children who are victims of severe childhood trauma. She is grateful. Her family is grateful but conflicted—they want to keep her close, but they know they must release her to be the angel God intended her to be.
It was the best Christmas ever.
No. Not “was”.
It IS the best Christmas ever.
Steve, for all the Van Rooys
(This was our “Christmas Letter in 2004)