By Susan Venditti
I have always loved Christmas. As a child I remember being told about baby Jesus who was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Mary Joseph, shepherds, 3 kings and the bright Christmas star. I recall many school Christmas concerts where I sang Away in a Manger from the choir while always wishing I’d been chosen to be Mary in the play. Everyone was dressed in their best clothing as we all followed the directions of our teachers who kept us in tune and behaving.When I became a grade one teacher at Carlton School my class was in the Christmas concert. They sang, ‘up on the roof top’ – full voices ringing with joy. When they returned to the classroom for treats Santa was waiting for them. My dad dressed all in red gave out candies and recorded lists. He was a Santa to remember. When it was time to leave because he had work to do back at the north pole he waved, told them to be good, wished them a Merry Christmas, and left room 19 to take his sleigh home. I was very relieved that the night was going well and that all the children were in their seats enjoying their treats. Suddenly one little boy jumped up and ran across to the window. “I see him up there ,“ he yelled. Soon thirty little faces were at the window peering into the dark sky. “Me too! Me too! “
At home my mom, dad, sister and I celebrated with all the trimmings- tree, gifts and turkey dinner. It was a peaceful day as no anger was allowed on December 25. We enjoyed this day as family. Mom and dad would often tell stories about Christmas when they were young with us spoiled sisters being shocked that there was one or no present for each. When I married into a large Italian family Christmas was about being together, being noisy, eating pasta and turkey and not about gifts. However in our home we spoiled our 3 children, attended Christmas Mass and then made the mistake of eating several Christmas dinners. It was simple, happy and bright.
Today our parents are gone, our siblings have their own families and our children are spread across the world so Christmas is different. We try to hang onto simple, happy, bright in the midst of much that is not. We see the miracle of birth, the potential that the baby brings. We witness and are thankful for the annual out pouring of generosity by the community. We are deeply moved by the resilience and love of those we have met through our work and new life.
We wish that everyone look up through the dark winter sky, see the Christmas star and feel joy.