Christmas is for those working at night, too

Christmas is for those working at night, too

Tonight, at 11:03, I begin writing this post.  It is yet Christmas Eve.  Jan and I have arranged tomorrow morning’s events as aesthetically as possible, while the children are anesthetized by fatigue and pizza.  The stockings aren’t exactly hung by the chimney with care, but they’re sitting by the gas-logs, if that counts.  We await the visit of Santa, who (according to NORAD) is somewhere in South America.  Though they are unconscious in warm beds, my children are drifting through the restless sleep of anticipation.  One went to bed playing his guitar, another improvising Silent Night on a small harp, still another reading, with dancing brown eyes; and our princess basking in the pink light of her pink Christmas tree, which suffuses the entire room and hallway with Christmas femininity.

And yet, as I enjoy this, the world is full of men and women working.  They are not whispering prayers over their small children, or holding their lovers  tight.  They are doing what men and women have always done; working for a living, protecting the public, saving lives, watching on the walls.

I understand this, as an emergency physician.  I have worked many holidays, and have come to take pride in that.  To be proud that I am doing what is necessary, even though I could take a simpler path and always be home by 5PM, no nights, weekends or holidays.  Because I have, this Christmas Eve in my home is all the more precious to me.  And because of that, my prayer is for those who cannot look at the gifts and lights, because they are ensuring that others can.

So God bless the soldiers, sailors and airmen on patrol in mountains or sand, on the sea, in the air or beneath it; God bless the fire-fighters and police-officers protecting the public in lonely rural towns or frantic cities.  God bless those transporting men and women to their places of comfort.  God bless the nurses, medics and physicians who are extricating the wounded, treating the patients with pneumonia or flu, operating with skill in the small hours to save a life from slipping away on Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day.  God bless phone operators and bridge operators, radar operators and toll-booth collectors; factory workers and highway workers.  God bless the priests, pastors and Rabbis called out to the suffering this night.

We celebrate the Nativity of Christ.  But he did not arrive on a night prepared for him; wreaths were not hung, lights not lit.  The masses were weary from travel, the shepherds lonely in the hills.  The Roman soldiers were dreaming of their homes, far away in other more verdant lands.  And the inn-keepers were doing one more night’s work among hundreds of the same.

Into the common life, into the common world, into a dark, average night where men and women still worked, the Christ Child was born.  It is well that we remember him this way, with light and gifts, food and laughter.  But our traditions focus on those available to worship and laugh, to eat and smile.  He came to those working the hard jobs of their hard lives; and they stopped what they were doing to come and see him.

God bless all of them; all who work and struggle in the darkness of Christmas Eve, or the brightness of Christmas Day.  Jesus is not here for those at ease, but for those who struggle.  And those of us resting tonight should say a prayer for those who are not.

Merry Christmas to all of my friends, family and wonderful readers!

May you be filled with the understanding of Christmas, which does not deceive like feelings.


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