“I hope you’re well. Any chance I’ll see you during the holidays?” That was all the email said.
Really? During the holidays? I have a semester to close, I thought, exams to grade, shopping to do, cards to address, and a calendar filled with Christmas gatherings and events. Isn’t Christmas a time to gather with those closest to us? This friend and I get together maybe twice during a year, and she lives nearby, so there’s really no rush. I will send her a polite response: “So much going on right now, but let’s plan to get together after the holidays.”
This conversation with myself all transpired in about 2 seconds. Then it was interrupted by another voice. “You missed the whole message, ” it said.
I read the email again, and indeed I had missed it. This time it said, “The holidays are such a lonely time, sometimes unbearable. Since my nephew died last year, I have no family left, and everyone is very busy with their own families. I know you are busy too, but I was just hoping maybe we might share some Christmas tea or bake some cookies together.”
I realized that not only had I missed the real email message, but I had missed the whole Christmas message. The message of the baby in the manger is one of spreading love, mending the broken, comforting the lonely, feeding the hungry, and sharing hope with those whose hope seems lost. Sadly I bowed my head, wondering how many similar messages I had missed. Thank you, God, for not letting me miss this one.
“I would love to get together, ” I typed, and suggested some times, including both private times and events we could enjoy together. Suddenly I realized I had plenty of time, and as joy filled my soul, I think the baby in the manger smiled.