Our parents had been divorced for years, but it was my brother Joe, and a few of my other siblings who actually maintained a relationship with my dad who resided in Harrisburg, Pa. I can remember the day just like it was yesterday. The telephone rang and it was my brother Joe calling me. I knew he was visiting with my dad for the holidays and so I thought he was just calling to see if our mother had arrived at my house, so he could say: "Merry Christmas." However, to my dismay, this was not the reason. I was totally unprepared for the bombshell he was about to drop on me.
After I said hello all I can remember him saying was "Daddy is dead!" At first, I thought that I was dreaming because I had dozed off on the couch while waiting for my mom to get to my house for dinner. Then, I thought my brother was high on something until I realized that I was not dreaming and nor was he high, but he was hysterical because he found my father dead upstairs in his bedroom.
Once I calmed him down and got over the initial shock, I then began to call all of my other siblings one by one to break the news. Although we had to bury my father during the Christmas holiday that year, new life was resurrected in our family that remains even today. From this experience, we made a pact that not only would we keep in touch with one another on a more consistent basis, but that we would always come together as a family during the Christmas holidays to celebrate each other and to also celebrate our mother, who is still alive today.
You may ask, what does this have to do with Christmas being the most wonderful time of the year? I am glad you want to know.
The announcement of Jesus' birth was not like any other birth that had taken place before. The angels, shepherds and wise men all heralded this news throughout the land in Bethlehem. Not only was his birth a special event, but so too was the meaning of his name. As our scripture text states above: "... and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." When something is full of wonder, it is amazing, awesome or miraculous in nature. A miracle happened for my family on that Christmas day in 1998 and the legacy of that miracle continues even today.
Christmas is not just the most wonderful time of the year to me because of the gifts I will give or receive, the trimming of the tree, the putting up of lights, or the singing of Christmas carols. It is the most wonderful time of the year because Jesus, the one full of "wonder," gave the miracle of love, togetherness and unity to my family and me on December.