Christmas brings joy, solace
We live in a time of uncertainty. Many of the expectations that have guided our lives through the years have seemingly deserted us. The notion that our children will know a better life than our own; the belief that our country will provide opportunity for all; the idea that hard work and education alone will sustain us; the thought that good health will be our unfailing companion — all have proven illusory.
In this past year, I have seen family members struggle with illness. I have found fear in the eyes of co-workers as furloughs diminish paychecks and dreams. And, I have known a father’s regret as my own daughters realize that my ability to provide for them is constrained in this harsh economic environment.
I tell myself that next year will be better, and I wait for the seeds of optimism to grow. Instead, the latest union bulletin warns of job reductions. I slide it into my overcoat pocket at the end of a December day’s work. As I walk to my car I think of my three daughters and of my obligations to each of them. There is Brittany’s college tuition, there is the cost of Brooke’s braces, and there are the needs of my youngest daughter, Bridget. I know well the weight of a father’s responsibilities.
I turn the ignition key and drive the back roads of Mill Creek Park to my home. Snowflakes fall softly upon the dormant trees. A deer runs along a snow-covered path and then disappears into the night. It is a perfect setting for Christmas. My thoughts drift in the park’s quiet emptiness.
As I drive, I think back to that first Christmas long ago. A husband struggles to find shelter for a young wife. A lowly stable is the only vacancy. In the still of night a child is born. He is placed gently in a manger. A single star shines down upon the young family. And, in the newborn’s cry resounds God’s message for all humanity. It is a message that has echoed through generations of uncertainty and doubt, through suffering and wars, and through each of the hardships this world has ever rendered. It is a message received by kings and shepherds alike, a Christmas blessing, perhaps best explained in these few words, “I love you, and I am with you”.
I turn onto my street. The yellow lights of home warm the darkness ahead. I park the car and quietly enter the family room through the back door. I stop and take in the scene about me. The aroma of freshly baked Christmas cookies fills the air. The Christmas tree sparkles brightly with colored lights. The music of “The First Noel” cascades from the living room as Bridget practices her piano lessons. Brittany chatters about her plans for college. Brooke reaches for my briefcase and takes it from my hand. “How was your day, Dad?” she asks. I push the bulletin deep into my coat pocket and then open my arms to receive her welcoming embrace.
We live in an imperfect world. In our lives we face illness, suffering, and turmoil. This December evening, I am reminded of the child born on that deep and holy night, and I recall the words he spoke years later when those around him were lost in uncertainty and doubt. He said simply, “Do not be afraid for I am with you until the end of time.”
In this Christmas Season, in the warmth of my family, I give thanks for God’s enduring blessing.
David Bobovnyik is an attorney who has worked as a public employee for the State of Ohio for the past 16 years.