BY JACK RICCARDI
It was true for the first one, and it’s still true today.
I was reminded of it tonight, sitting in the back of St. Mark’s on Thousand Oaks, for the 4 P.M. Christmas Eve Mass.
My reminder didn’t come through the usual means. Not the homily (no offense, Father Ryan!) and, no, not the readings.
Instead, I was looking around at all the babies and little kids who were singing, praying and fidgeting their way through their longest night of the year!
When your child cries, smiles, wanders or stumbles, you drop everything. You notice. Everyone does.
Children get our attention and hold our hearts. It struck me that no matter how well, or humbly, the parent was dressed, every child had on new-looking shirts and dresses, plenty of ribbons for the girls’ hair and plenty of sticky stuff for the boys’ hair. Some of the parents looked worn out, no doubt for good reason, but their kids were shiny and bright.
There’s a reason for that: we treasure our children above all else and we sacrifice ourselves for them. Nothing else feels more right than making sure your child is healthy and happy. I picture Mary and Joseph shivering to make sure Jesus is warm in the stable. It’s what you do.
You could see it all around at St. Mark’s tonight. Children who are that “star” for us.
I think that’s why the Christmas story is powerful and enduring. Even as we are increasingly distracted, a child’s cry or laugh breaks through and gets our attention.
We sometimes say, with grown-up cynicism, that “Christmas is for children” because of Santa and stockings.
In fact, I think children deliver Christmas to us. Christmas is from children.
From the Christ child and the children of St. Mark’s