The "W" in Christmas


By Candy Chand

Each December I had vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I cut back on nonessential obligations such as extensive card writing, endless baking, too much decorating, and even overspending. Yet still I would find myself exhausted, unable to appreciate precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year, and it was an exciting season for him. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's Winter Pageant. I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production. Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend the evening performance were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

The morning of the dress rehearsal, I arrived ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor, and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to find a spot. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then one by one, each group rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system in the U.S. has long ago stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial songs about reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes, and good cheer. So when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was a little surprised at the bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens and red sweaters, with bright snowcaps on their heads. Those in the front row and center stage held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then "H is for Happy," and so on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly we noticed a small, quiet girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down, totally unaware that her "M" appeared as a "W."

The audience of first through sixth graders snickered at this little one's mistake, but she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood straight and proud, holding her "W." Although the teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience and eyes widened. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there and why we celebrate the holiday in the first place. It was as though even if in chaos, there is a purpose in our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear.

"C H R I S T W A S L O V E."

And He still is. I was amazed at His presence and humbled by His love.

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The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others' burdens, easing others' loads, and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.--W.C. Jones