Another December. Another cold, dark night. Another walk in the snow with my dog.
It’s been our ritual for several years now. He frolics around—planting his entire face deep in the snow as if he’s meeting it for the very first time—and I turn up Christmas music in my headphones—reminiscing on my fascination with this holiday.
Last year, one walk stopped suddenly when a new song dipped inside my ears. I couldn’t walk a step farther…and yes, I actually teared up.
For the seventh straight year, the holidays were about to drop in like an unwelcome houseguest. My wife and I were again without the child we hoped to have and were left with questions about who we are, who we wished to be and if those two “whos” should even remain together. It was another cold, dark December night.
The song that stopped me in my tracks was “Snow” by Sleeping At Last, beginning with words I could see all around me:
The branches have traded their leaves for white sleeves
All warm-blooded creatures make ghosts as they breathe
Scarves are wrapped tightly like gifts under trees
Christmas lights tangle in knots annually
And then progressing to the words that stopped my feet from moving:
Our families huddle closely
Betting warmth against the cold
But our bruises seem to surface
Like mud beneath the snow
So we sing carols softly, as sweet as we know
A prayer that our burdens will lift as we go
Like young love still waiting under mistletoe
We’ll welcome december with tireless hope
And all I could do was stop and stare into the falling snow—repeating a holiday prayer that this year might finally be the last season of cold, dark December nights.
This past October, new winds swept through our house for the very first time, when we adopted our first son! A complete, wonderful miracle that we’d only known of for a few weeks…but was beautifully formed over many months…and, of course, prayed over for many years. His new life brought brand new life into our family, and he changed the way the holidays look this year. The snow seems whiter. Songs seem sweeter. Winds seems softer. We’re so grateful that unto us a son was given!
And yet, even with all the change he’s brought into our lives, some things remain the same.
That “Snow” song dipped into my headphones the other night, and my reaction surprised me. I discovered that all my newfound joy of this holiday season was still mixed with the sadness that others I know still sit in the sadness and pain of their current struggles of life. And I was reminded that I never want to forget them. I’ve been them, and I’m sure I’ll be them again. May I never get so caught up in my own joy, that I miss the needs of others.
That song concludes with these words:
The table is set and our glasses are full
Though pieces go missing, may we still feel whole
We’ll build new traditions in place of the old
’cause life without revision will silence our souls
With prayers of gratitude this holiday season go up prayers for the hurting on these cold, dark December nights.