The Songs of Christmas fall strangely silent.
I listen for their message of peace on earth, good will to men.
But the noise I hear instead is that of war.
And families killed by those born of their own bodies.
And hope gunned down, bringing murder and mayhem and sorrow and despair.
I took a dark road to my Sweet Mama’s house the other night.
For the first time in 24 Christmases, she wasn’t at our house for Christmas Eve.
Company and fatigue and pain and memories held her captive in her house.
So we went on without her.
When all the offspringin’s left for their traditional Christmas Eve Church service
I packed up her Christmas from us and went to her.
I went in my new fuzzy Christmas socks. But I took along my boots.
I planned to go to my Daddy’s grave on my way home.
On the way out my drive, I passed a trailer house. There was almost no light..
It once housed a child whom I loved as my own.
Our little Latin Lupe-Lou.
She is no longer a child, though she is little. She is a woman.
And two weeks ago, she abruptly married.
I don’t know where she is. I don’t feel good about this decision.
As I made the corner out of my driveway, there was a sudden catch in my gut.
I thought of all the golden Christmases when her stocking hung with ours.
When her stack of presents was the same as our children.
When I would climb the stairs to pray the Lord her soul to keep.
She had her own bed, her own drawers in the dressers, her own space in the closet.
But, most importantly, a place in our hearts.
Something went so wrong.
That is when the tears began.
I didn’t want to go to Mama’s all cried up, so I tried to stop.
I turned on my CD of Baroque Christmas music. I made it loud.
“Hallelujah!” I sang at the top of my lungs. “Joy to the world, the LORD has come!”
But my voice kept cracking, and the tears wouldn’t stop.
So, I rolled down my windows and let the cold winter air blow against my hot cheeks.
I started the Joy song all over again. “Joy to the world!” I caroled in my wobbly voice.
“Lord. I believe!” I sobbed. “I believe that your coming to the earth lends meaning to all of this.”
I passed the cemetery that held my daddy’s grave. He’s been so long gone.
“No more let sins and sorrows grow . . .nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow . . . Far as the curse is found.”
My heart began to quiet. There would be time for tears later.
On my way home. In a cold and quiet graveyard at a familiar stone.
The last few miles were filled with quiet orchestra music that filled my heart with peace.
And I came into my Sweet Mama’s house at least a little composed and tried to be cheery.
I walked into the warmth and beauty of the house that was my parents home
And found myself wrapped up in love and laughter and acceptance.
My Middle Brother was there, with his sweet wife.
The nurturing, quiet conversation swirled around my aching heart and comforted me.
My Sweet Mama, almost asleep on the chair, looked over her treasures and tried to exclaim.
But the day had been long, and the night was going to be short
And she finally succumbed to the grasp of the night and slept while we visited on.
An hour later, I knew I needed to go home.
Mama woke up enough to say a muddled “good-night. I love you” when I kissed her soft cheek.
I had to laugh at her sleepy confusion.
And then I hugged Nel and Rose, put on my boots, and went out into the night.
The time at my Mama’s house had been so precious.
I aimed my mini van towards Milford and thought about stopping at my Daddy’s grave.
I had those boots on and everything. I had packed a good flashlight to light my way.
But something had changed.
I didn’t need to stop. Somehow the gripping desire had faded away.
In its place was the quiet Joy of the song in the night.
My CD was playing. Not so loudly, and I wasn’t singing with it.
And I wasn’t crying.
“No more let sins and sorrows grow . . .”
The Songs of Christmas may fall silent in these days after Christmas. And there is much in our world to mute the message. And there can be much in our lives that seems to drown it out. It is easy to be discouraged. It is easy to despair.
Listen, my Sisters and Brothers. It is up to us. We are the ones to carry the message. We need to sing the songs of hope when it seems there is no hope. We need to bring the message of Joy even when our hearts are breaking. We need to remind this old world that the angel’s song is the word for our day.
“Good tidings of great joy . . . unto YOU is born . . . a Savior . . . Which is CHRIST, the LORD.”
“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, AND ON EARTH PEACE, GOODWILL TOWARDS MEN!”
There is a blessed hope. We dare not forget.