Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On This "Silent Night"...by Jim Terry

Well it’s that time of year again. …The day before Christmas and here we are at almost another year's end.  Hopefully you have made enough time in your agenda for fun, time for family and time to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

I remember growing up in a family that was, and still is mind you, full of love for each other and have been taught to do good to our fellow man.  I can thank my Mom and Dad for that.  They were always giving, always caring and always, ALWAYS looking to help those in need.

….I was about 14 years old when this next experience happened to me.

When my Dad and Mom would do well financially in construction and the economic fluctuation was on the positive upswing, they would always give or help those that were struggling with making ends meet.  Being a young teenager, I never quite “GOT IT” at the time, but now that I am an adult, I see all too clearly now why this memory has stuck with me.

My parents found out through the church we attended that there were several families that were in need this particular Christmas I am thinking of.  These families did not have enough money for the simplest of toys for young children, warm clothing to battle against the fierce winds and snows of an eastern Idaho winter or just enough funds to be able to purchase some food for a warm meal.  I know our family has had some ups and downs financially but non so desperate as the picture that was painted here.

So my parents decided to take it upon themselves to provided for two of the families that year that were in need.  I remember going shopping with my Mom and some of my siblings and each of us were able to help pick out some of the toys we thought would be a good match for some of the young children we would be giving to.  We also bought some clothing, which included warm coats and mittens, essential household goods and groceries.  When we returned home, we all helped bring in all the “loot” from Mom’s van and started to wrap all the gifts and sort though the necessities to divide them based upon each family’s needs.

Once the before mentioned activities were completed and on this very same special day of Christmas Eve about 30 years ago, my Dad, my Mom and all my siblings headed out the door to deliver what we had ALL worked on together to make someone else’s Christmas more joyous and wonderful. …It was almost a surreal experience now that I think about it. 

While we were driving to our destination to deliver the items we had put together for these families, we filled the car with joy by singing Christmas Carols, enjoyed seeing the beautiful and newly fallen snow and enjoyed every twinkle of every decoration, tree and light we noticed that paid tribute to the wonderful holiday we all know as “Christmas.”

We, the kids, were the ones who were to deliver the packages to the front door as “quietly as possible”, ring the doorbell and run as fast as we could to get out of sight and hide behind a snow drift, a car or whatever tree we could find to sit back and enjoy this wonderful gift our parents allowed us to experience called “GIVING.” 

I remember the family I helped deliver to. …It was our last stop before we headed back home to start our Christmas. Little did I recognize at the time in my life, that Christmas had already begun.

…Once hidden after we ran as quickly as we could after delivering the packages to the front door so the “giving” could remain anonymous, I remember the lady of the house came out to see who had rung her doorbell.  I hear her say, “Oh my" as she read the BIG hand written note on the gifts that just said, "Merry Christmas."   I then heard her start to sniffle a bit and then she started to cry.   Her kids also appeared shortly thereafter to see what their Mother was up to.   Their giggles and laughs told the whole story of a magical Christmas that was now complete.  And as they picked up their items we had left for them at their front door, the Mother paused for a moment, looked to the left and then to the right and then called out into the dimly lit streets, “Thank you so much!" ..."Merry Christmas!”  

As I walked back to our van after the front door closed on the home we just visited, I couldn’t help but to notice "On This Silent Night” my surroundings… like the quiet crunch of the snow beneath my boots.  …The calm of the night air. …The beautiful decorations adorning nearly every household on that street. …but most importantly I noticed the warmth I felt in my heart.  Experiencing a simple sniff, a tear, some kids giggling and the appreciation of a Mother ever so thankful of the gifts they just received made the warmth in my heart I experienced that night seem so positive and something so pure …And all this happened because of a simple act of kindness and because of the wisdom of loving parents who knew what was best for their children.

Starting our vehicle, peering out of the foggy windows into the winter wonderland that surrounded us and finally slowly leaving this quiet and serene setting as a family, there was absolute silence in our car.  Hope, kindness, charity, love and anything to do with good had filled all of our hearts and made all of us reflect on how lucky we are/were to have family and the faith that a Savior came to earth and died for us.  ...This peaceful silence was broken a few minutes later as my Mom quietly, yet angelically, began to sing “Silent Night, Holy Night…All is calm, All is bright…”  We all joined in the singing with a few sniffles and tears of our own and headed home.  Ever since that night the words to this song have held a special place and meaning in my heart.

So on this "Silent Night" 30 years later, I need to give thanks. ...“THANK YOU MOM AND DAD” for your knowledge, your judgement and for allowing me to experience GIVING!  The best gift a parent could ever offer a child. “MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

***My Christmas wish...a phone call to Heaven. This is what I would say..."Mom, my heart aches without you here with us this year on Christmas. However, I am so happy for you that you are spending your FIRST Christmas in Heaven with all those that also love you and were patiently waiting for you to return home. ...Like your Mom, Dad and sister who have dearly missed you while you were here on earth taking care of your family. WE LOVE YOU MOM and you are forever in our hearts!!!"

-The following video was made in loving memory of my Mother and contains one of my Mother's favorite renditions of Silent Night sung by Sarah McLachlan. So please take a short 4 minutes of your life and watch, ponder and listen to the words of this beautiful song. ...There is a Merry Christmas message at the end from my Mom and Dad to you wishing you a Very Merry Christmas 2013.