The Edmond Sun

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December 21, 2012

AS I SEE IT: Finding spirit of Christmas amidst sudden grief

EDMOND — Some of you will remember Saber-the-Magnificent, the cat who occasionally authored these columns throughout the past several years. Saber took his last breath in my arms a week ago today — a very real and personal grief on the heels of the nation’s universal grief for the 20 tiny victims and six adults who, in their defense, had lost their lives the day before. And still, Christmas is coming.     

Bright colors and catchy tunes — the bright tinsel of everyone’s favorite holiday — herald its coming. Glittering, bombastic TV commercials encourage us to put aside whatever doesn’t fit the season and be joyful, unmindful that old age, poor health and loneliness color this most holy of holidays in a drabber hue for some.

My own Christmas history is probably not all that different from yours, except that I’m about to celebrate the eighth decade of my relationship with the jolly old St. Nick whose giving spirit prepared me to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, which I do to this day.

Most of my Christmases have been wonderfully predictable. Most but not all. One year my two little boys, and I pushing my dad in a wheelchair, joined Mom at St. Anthony’s Hospital where, for two months, she had lain in a body cast recuperating from an accident that had maimed both my parents. Even so, we found the Christmas Spirit that year in simply being together, grateful their lives had been spared and they would both walk again.

My dad died on an early December day many years later, leaving my mother inconsolable. As Christmas neared, we cast about for a way to help her through the first Christmas in 62 years that she wouldn’t have her beloved husband by her side. Believing that our traditional Christmas Eve activities would only emphasize her aloneness, we put tradition aside and drove her around town to see the houses decked out in lights. How quietly she sat beside me as I pointed out the various displays, but it wasn’t enough. Try as we might, the Christmas Spirit evaded all of us that year.

This year the Christmas Spirit may well hover to no avail above the homes of the families and loved ones of 20 little 6- and 7-year-olds and their six teachers, all murdered by a mad man in Connecticut scarcely a week ago. My prayer is that, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, families and loved ones may heal together and one day merge as one, lavishing attention on their surviving children, on the memory of the one they so tragically lost and, with renewed fervor, on each other. May the Holy Spirit of Christmas carry them in His arms until they’re strong enough to step out on their own.

I know it’s possible. Mother went on to celebrate the Spirit of Christmas throughout her remaining 15 years, and with the help of benevolent others, the ill and forgotten can experience bits of the glorious seasons of their past. As for me, I’ll be straining to hear a magnificent, fluffy gray angel lend his voice to the throng hovering above the Christmas tree that he so enjoyed shredding. I only wish he were here to do that now.

MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.

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