Life certainly has its ups and downs, and that’s most apparent as December gives way to January. December is a magical month, with festive decorations, those special foods we crave all year long, endless Christmas music everywhere we go, time with friends and family — even those December snowfalls are things of beauty.
Then we flip the calendar, and we’re taking things down and packing them up, regretting those extra calories as we strain to slide the boxes into the attic. What was a White Christmas Wonderland is now an ugly gray driveway. And if we hear “Santa Baby” one more time, we fear we’ll do something that will have us end up with a sack of coal next December.
January brings a different vibe to Sheltering Wings, too. The holidays are fun and festive around here. Our families bake cookies together as a way to thank first responders and the others who have helped them. Santa pays plenty of attention to “our” kids, making multiple visits to thank them for being so good to their moms and each other. We meet the Colts, we meet the Pacers, and we get to visit exciting places. And on Christmas morning, the little ones scream as they see all the presents piled outside their doors.
But when the tinsel and colored lights come down, they reveal the tensions that have been hiding all along. Our families are safe from domestic violence under our roof, but their lives have been changed in unimaginable ways. What was familiar is now gone, and the future is unclear. Their eyes again reveal sadness and worry.
It’s true that we pack up the decorations in boxes and put them away for eleven months. But we never box up what those decorations symbolize: the hope that arrived in a manger more than 2,000 years ago.
Gradually, our families come to realize that real happiness, true joy, and abundant hope aren’t things that appear during the holidays and then go away. As they learn more about themselves and each other, the laughter and the happiness, the fellowship and the fun all surround them more often. The warm spirit that enveloped them on those chilly December days is there all the time. As their awareness of their own worth grows and their confidence manifests itself in new activities and challenges, they begin to shed the sadness of earlier days.
Do they encounter setbacks? Of course, just as we all do. But our staff and our volunteers are there to help them reignite that hope inside all of us. Each day is another new beginning with new opportunities.
Yes, Christmas is a magical time. But the real magic of Christmas remains and grows long after the holiday passes. May that magic surround you and yours all year long!