Christmas Returns Again This Year

“Christmas returns as it always does,” the poet proclaims.

Christmas returns to near-barren fields

in the dark night watches

to shepherds on guard

and wombs long thought empty

 

“Christmas returns….”

in surprising places

with twists in the plot

that confront and give hope

light in the darkness of lives gone unnoticed

 

A young single mother struggling to raise

two girls on her own

while wrapped in a cloud of trauma-filled gloom

she’s got no money for gifts this year

just barely enough to pay off the rent

 

And yet she picks out a couple of books

in hopes that somehow she’ll find cash to pay

for the books that she’s layed away

 

Two days before Christmas she goes to pay for the books

Both those layed away and two newly selected

She stands in line and waits her turn

 

“I have some books on hold,” she says

to the clerk at the counter.

The clerk turns away,

bends down and picks up a bag.

 

“How much do I owe?” the young mother asks.

The clerk then replies,

“Just the cost of those books you hold in your hands.”

 

“What?” “How can that be?” “I didn’t pay in advance.”

“They’re paid for,” the clerk keeps repeating.

“They’re yours. They’re all paid for.”

 

Again and again on the short ride home

that young mother looks down

on that bag full of books.

Incredulous, puzzled, confused by it all

“How? I don’t get it. How can this be?”

Stunned like those shepherds on that far-away field.

 

As she picks up her bag and heads to the gate

she turns back and says in a confident way

“A gift of grace, that’s what it is.”

 

“Christmas returns again this year.”

A woman of indeterminate age

weathered and wrinkled by time on the streets

announces with considerable pride

“Two sleeping bags.

“I’ve got two sleeping bags and loads of dry socks.”

 

Alarm bells set off. She’s out on the streets.

“Where do you stay when it gets really cold?”

“Not in the shelter, that’s for sure.

“Folks steal all your things and make lots of noise.”

“But where do you stay,” the question resurfaces.

 

Pulling her jackets close to her face, she replies,

“I camp out in a really good place.

“A church let’s me stay in their outdoor loft.

“I’m sheltered from snow and the wind and the rain.

“I’m safe and welcome and that’s what I need.”

 

Christmas returns again this year

With twists in a plot that both gives hope and confronts:

The spark of life in a woman

weathered and wrinkled by time on the streets

a beacon of hope from one gone unnoticed.

 

And yet one still wonders,

“Are you really safe? Is that all you need?”

“Is an outdoor loft sufficient for God’s precious child?”

 

Still Christmas returns again and again:

In a hospital room on Christmas Day

A curtain divides one bed from the next

Behind that curtain a tremulous voice

Joins others in prayer.

 

A chorus of voices—some trembling, some belting, some gasping for breath:

“Our Father who art in Heaven

“Hallowed be thy name

“Thy Kingdom come

“Thy will be done

“On earth as it is in Heaven….”

 

A strong voice rises from the hall,

“O holy child of Bethlehem

Descend to us we pray

Cast out our sin and enter in

Be born in us today”

As Christmas returns year in and year out.

 

 

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