- December 24, 2018
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One of my most memorable Christmases was spent in a little Hungarian town fittingly named Békéscsaba —“gift of peace.” I remember slowly walking the quiet Eastern European streets on Christmas morning, leaving behind footprints in the newly fallen snow. As I passed a towering 19th century canary yellow church with its roof frosted over, a large man in a gray sweater rode by on his old squeaky bicycle carrying a fresh green Christmas tree over his shoulder—a completely unforgettable sight. I remember humming a traditional Hungarian Christmas song “Békeség! Földön az embernek!” “Peace on Earth to all men!” I felt the town celebrating with me the Divine gifts of peace and love.
A few days before Christmas I went caroling with some friends. We situated ourselves in the middle of town where the Christmas market was—little shacks filled with handmade toys, chocolates, fruit, and other seasonal offerings. We sang joyfully songs of Christmas and passed out candles to those that went by. I remember looking down the long street to see the little lights scatter throughout the crowds—strangers connected by the same hopes and fears, all known and numbered to God. It was like a twinkling starlit sky, and I felt part of it. For me, the scene was a poetic visualization of the way love scatters and spreads as we give it.
This Christmas I hope you will in some small measure see the way your love scatters through the smiles you provoke, the laughter you create, the warmth you share, the food you cook, the cards you write, the songs you sing, and the gifts you carefully prepare for those you love.