December is a time of joy and rejoicing. A time for family, gifts and giving. A time of cookies and candy, cakes and pies, eaten ’til you’re full to bursting. A time of lights, trees and pretty paper, glittering quietly and speaking of joys to come. Mostly it’s a time for rejoicing in the Savior’s birth. He came; what more could matter?
I keep busy in December. I’ve never had much money, don’t have hardly any now, but there’s still things I can do for my children. Though finances do not permit much in the way of giving, I can make a pie, roll out some homemade cookie dough, wrap sometimes meager offerings given from the heart. The busy fun keeps me focused on better days but behind it is a shadow of sadness. December is a time of death and sorrow in my family. I have lost four family members in this sad month. Spread over time, still their deaths count down my December days and mark them in longing for what once. So I keep busy so that, though I remember and want to remember, I won’t remember too much.
Mine isn’t the only family where silence cuts through the darkening eve on cold December days. As we, the families of Christmas past, remember our loved ones, as a tear of sadness tugs at our hearts, we must also rejoice in Christmas present and Christmas yet to come. There are many reasons to rejoice. So much to do, to pray, to decorate, to plan, there’s hardly time to be sad. Little ones eyes filled with hope and joy fill folks with enough happiness to let them make it all the way through January if they’ll let it. Expectations, times of celebration and happiness, gatherings and coming together once again to share the love God has blessed you all with are bigger and better blessings than any of us deserve. But you don’t have to have a family to wrap a present or bake a pie. Children aren’t required to decorate a tree. It’s a time of rejoicing so find someone who needs someone to rejoice with and get busy doing so. No one should be alone at Christmas. But even if you have no one to celebrate with, or even if you abstain from such trappings, you mustn’t abstain from that which is the real cause of all rejoicing. Jesus came. He came over 2,000 years ago but the bells proclaiming His birth have never rung louder, at least for those of us who love Him. He came and He came for me. Nothing else is needed for Christmas to come.
For some the Christmas bells ring silently, at least for a little while. Those who have gone on before, if they were His, are rejoicing in ways we can only now hope for. Their Christmas is better than anything this old world has to offer. We may miss them, yes, but we can rejoice that they lived. And that we were given the blessing of sharing our lives with them. Silent Christmas bells for always and ever? With a Savior like ours? Not likely. In fact, it’s impossible.
Christmas is coming and with it comes a shadow of sadness for some. But it is also ushering in gingerbread men dressed up in sticky sprinkles and too much icing. It beckons with glittering lights that reflect, in some tiny way, the hope and joy that Christmas itself brings. It extends its hand in silent cheer, a perennial hope for tomorrow; it withdraws its hand, just for a moment, to bid goodbye. Goodbye to our loved ones. Goodbye to yet another Christmas. But never goodbye to love or to hope or to cheer.
Silent Christmas bells? Yes, they exist but only until the hope dawns in our hearts. And then they ring for joy for the Savior not only was born but died and was raised again. He lives. May all the earth rejoice!