We got a precious, early Christmas gift this year - our daughter gave birth to another healthy baby girl. This makes four grandchildren for us...miracles all. We are blessed...and I count those blessings every single day. While the arrival of a new baby in the family is cause for much celebration in our ever-growing clan, it also set the stage for some serious reflection about the kind of world this tiny infant will grow up in.
The reflection I saw wasn't pretty. It's sadly clear that we adults have made a mess of things. The environment is suffering, our natural resources are dwindling, powerful nations sling threats of might and artillery at each other, we send our young men and women to war to kill or be killed, and devious terrorist iconoclasts try to scare, maim, murder, and coerce people into bowing to their impossible demands. Sadly, people - one of our most precious resources - still grow up hating each other just because they are different. What's up with that? I'm not naïve enough to presume I'd see a utopian society in my lifetime, but hey...haven't we learned anything in the 4 million or so years we've populated this earth? And, assuming we know a thing or two, do we have what it takes to change things for the better?
Since it's Christmas - the season of love, hope and peace, I get a little dreamy-eyed, and am probably engaging in too much magical thinking - but I'd like to think we can change things -- even if that change starts with just one person at a time.
So, this one person - lucky grandmother of four, is going to take some responsibility for the mess, and in my own way, make a few things a little better. While I'm shopping for treats and special things for the new baby, and all the other loved ones in my life, I will also be buying gifts for a slightly different crowd. My shopping list will include a hefty purchase at the Heifer Foundation, to help economically hindered communities around the globe start agricultural and farming endeavors. Next, I'll send gift packages to our soldiers stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places far from home, to let them know I care about the burden they are bearing. Then I'll help feed the needy children and families who live right here in my own home town. These are little things - small gifts and gestures -- but I know that these efforts will bring joy and hope into the lives of the recipients. For me, this kind of giving exemplifies the true spirit of Christmas.
As we sip our hot apple cider and bask in the glow of our Christmas and Hanukkah lights this year, I'll be thinking about people I don't know, and sending them wishes for a happier tomorrow. And when I cradle our precious new grandchild - I'll be praying that people everywhere will take responsibility to make the world a better place. And then perhaps we can show our children and our grandchildren that the words Love, Hope & Peace are more than just words they see in our holiday cards. Merry Christmas, Baby.