by Joan Wester Anderson
She should never have waited so long to tackle the Christmas shopping, Kimberley Little reminded herself as she shifted her bundles from one aching arm to the other. She hated shopping, hated having to brave the crowds, and sift through endless piles of merchandise. But there was only so much holiday gift-buying one could do through catalogues, and, of course, the children needed their annual photo taken with Santa Claus. So here she was, imprisoned in a slow-moving "Visit Santa" line, wondering if she might spend the entire holidays in this Albuquerque mall.
Of course, she had to admit she was never "up" at this time of year, no matter how smoothly things went. Her father had died tragically in a plane crash just a few days before Christmas when Kimberley was fourteen, and although many years had passed, she never faced December without feeling echoes of that familiar shock, sorrow and loneliness. As her faith matured, Kimberley had gotten involved in her church, singing in the choir, and teaching her young sons to pray. She didn't doubt that her father was in heaven with Jesus, and she would see him again. But every year as Christmas approached, the same nagging question emerged: "This is all supposed to be so wonderful. So why isn't it?"
Kimberley shifted packages again, and looked at her three young sons. Their moods seemed no cheerier than hers. One was demanding a ride on the train further down the mall. Another was hungry. "I hate Christmas!" muttered the eldest, his lip thrust out in frustration.
Kimberley felt guilty. "Moms have so much influence on the spirit of the family," she says. "If we're just a little bit cranky, everyone picks up on it." She didn't want to spoil this season for the children. They shouldn't carry the same vague sadness that she did.
And yet… She glanced around at the other families in line. They were all like hers, she realized, the kids were irritable, tired, fighting with one another, the parents grimly Determined to Endure.
Why are we like this? Kimberley wondered. Where was the real Christmas, the spirit of love and peace, the joyful awareness that a Savior had come into the world? How did one cut through the confusion, the fatigue, the pressure, yes, even the sorrowful memories, to find it?
Suddenly, God nudged her. "It couldn't have been anything else," Kimberley says, "because all at once I felt a little tingle, as if something new was happening. And I realized that if I wanted to feel better about myself, I had to take the first step. I had to be brave." But how?
Sing a carol… The suggestion was already in her heart. She had recently performed a solo in church. She knew how to sing. But this noisy shopping center was not church. "Oh, no, God, not me," she told Him silently. "You remember how shy I am ... People will stare."
Bring Christmas to the mall. Sing.
Kimberley sighed. It was no use. She knew that Voice. And hadn't she asked Him where Christmas was?
Softly she began to sing. "Silent night, holy night ..." The couple in front of her, who had been filling out a photography order form, paused and turned around.
"All is calm, all is bright ..." Kimberley reached for her youngest son and picked him up. What if they threw her out of the mall, for disturbing the peace?
You're bringing the peace, the answer came. Sing.
The children behind her had stopped arguing. "Listen," one whispered to the other. "That lady's singing."
The tips of Kimberley's ears turned red. "Round yon virgin, mother and child ..." she went on. Her sons would never speak to her again.
But…Was it her imagination, or did she hear another voice? And another? Yes, the couple in front of her was singing, their order form forgotten. Now the children behind her, and their parents, and the family next to them. Dazed, Kimberley realized that the entire section of the Santa Claus line had joined her. Even her own offspring.
It was true! Little risks could lead to wonderful things. And she was feeling better, her spirit soothed, her mind quieted. Maybe Christmas, and its eternal message, was simply as close as anyone allowed it to be.
Voices faded as the song ended. "Let's do 'Angels We Have Heard on High'" Kimberley suggested to the people around her. It was her eldest's favorite carol, and her dad had always liked it too.
It was going to be a wonderful Christmas.
Posted on Sat, December 23, 2017
by Ken Hart