Rejoicing during Advent
Let’s take a breather from the reflection and self-examination of Advent to get a glimpse of the joy of the coming Christmas Day. Each year at this time, I like to read the chapter on Christmas by Robert Fulghum, in his book, “All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.” He tells the story of a Christmas visitor that gave him immense joy, reminding him to throw himself into the holiday with all that he’s worth.
Fulghum writes, “One Sunday I had been feeling short-tempered, cold, not at all full of Lord’s Day bliss. A knock comes at my door. A rather short person in a cheap Santa Claus mask thrusts out a large brown paper bag. “Trick or Treat.” Tongue-tied, I stare at this apparition. He shakes his bag at me, and dumbly I fish in my wallet and drop a dollar bill into his bag. The Santa mask lifts and there is an eight-year-old Asian kid, with a ten-dollar-grin on his face. “Wanta hear some caroling?” he asks.
I know him now. He is one of the family who the Quakers settled into the neighborhood last year– Vietnamese I think. “Wanta hear some caroling?” he asks. I nod, expecting an octet of urchins to jump out of the bushes and join him. “Sure, where’s the choir?”
“I’m it,” he says. And he launches into Jingle Bells at full lung power. He finishes with a soft-voiced, reverential singing of “Silent Night.” Head back, eyes closed, from the bottom of his heart, he poured out the last strains of “Sleep in Heavenly Peace.”
I was wet-eyes and dumbstruck by his performance. I pulled out a five-dollar bill and dropped it into his bag. In return, he produced half a candy cane from his pocket, and passed it solemnly to me. Flasking his ten-dollar grin, he turned, running from the porch, shouting, “God bless you,” and “Trick or Treat” was gone.
Trick or Treat! After I shut the door, came near hysteria– laughter, tears, and that funny feeling you get when you know once again Christmas has come to you. Right down the chimney of my mid-winter hovel, comes Hong Duc. He is confused about the details, like me, but he is very clear about the Spirit of the season. It’s an excuse to let go and celebrate– to throw yourself into Holiday with all you have, wherever you are.
“Where’s the choir? I’m it,” says he. Head back, eyes closed, voice raised in whatever song I can muster.