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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

THE JOY IN SADNESS

Sometimes it is very hard to control one’s emotions, as in a moments time they can run from joy to anguish.

Every year at this time I am asked to play Santa, a job which pays very well in joy and satisfaction. Those that visit Santa are adults with disabilities ranging from mental to physical and usually both. They still believe in Santa, and as Santa, I can peek into their world of courage, pain and sometimes disappointment.

There is usually a long line of people waiting for a chance to talk to Jolly Old Saint Nick. They believe, they come and they are eager to speak with him. Santa likes to compliment them on how they look, a red sweater, and a string of blinking lights around their neck, a smile, and greeting: “HI, Santa!” Some can walk on their own, some need walkers or wheelchairs, but they come, Santa is a ray of joy, hope, and a person that they trust, he is Santa.

Some of these wonderful individuals have no family, maybe were abandoned because of their disability, some their parents have passed, and now the Agency is their Mom. There are those who have parents that still live, but barely, and the infirmed are weighing on the minds of their children. They ask Santa to make them better, an impossible trick by any means.
“Santa, can you make my mom better?”
“I will ask God to help us.” That is all I can muster, not only is my heart broken, but I need to stand my ground as Jolly Old St. Nick.

By the end of the night, facing countless flashes of the camera, the heat that builds in the suit, the pain or arthritis that takes over from sitting too long in one way, in one spot I take off the suit and am me again, and I think of those poor souls, all fighting their own battle in life, all having fears about themselves and the world they inherited and I get angry. I see beautiful faces, faces that were once touched by the lips of God and I want to cry about how damaged they have become. I see elderly ladies losing all their hair, their faces distorted and their bodies crippled and I want to go hide from the shame I have when I complain. I guess I could say: Thank you, God, for it is not I. But then I think: why them? What is their crime?

Christmas is supposedly about family, about Jesus, about love, peace, and joy, as we spend our times together while many of us in this world are abandoned, their investment in the “Holidays” is a void that can’t be explained, that can’t be measured in joy or pleasure or shopping for gifts. Many of us will close our awareness to the plight of many of these brothers and sisters, and forget them.

Once we invited my daughter Ellen’s housemates to our house for Christmas dinner. There were seven and along with my daughter who sat at the dining room table as a family. They all had one thing in common, they loved each other, why? Because there was only peace and joy emanating from them.

In ten days we will celebrate another Christmas season. We will bake, cook and plan for gift giving, yet we will not accept the greatest gift of all, those who have nothing, need to be appreciated as fellow brothers and sisters, a chance for us who have to give to those who have not, even if it is only as a candle in the wind.

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