We have now reached that time of year when we wander around our streets as often in the dark as in the light. For me, the sight of houses with their curtains drawn on a crisp starry night is an evocative one. The orange hue in the light that always seem to escape through the windows always grants me that sense of warmth that such light implies. I see these houses, and I instinctively regard them as warm, happy, by default full of kids relaxing by a default crackling fire. I find myself wanting to be inside those houses. Perhaps there is something of the Christmas card about such a sight, but it is nonetheless compelling.
I was reminded this week that behind the closed doors of some houses it is far from warm and evocative, far from suggestive of Yuletide Joy. I heard this week of the plight of a child not too far from my own home, who had yet to reach their second birthday when they were recieved into hospital with a crushed skull. Such was the extent of that little child's injuries, they will not celebrate Christmas and will never be two. As a result of injuries sustained in that same orange glow, that child died a few days ago, and while the other injuries pale into relative insignificance compared to the primary one, they tell the story of that little-one's experience of this life. I suspect that it will be a life that will be measured by a greater number of injuries than months lived.
We will soon leap headlong into the 'Away In a Manger' season. The carols will shortly pipe up and link seamlessly one into the other until the day our Saviour comes. More often than not, those carols will be hollered out by excited children for whom the Little Baby Jesus is still something to be excited about. The priests of our country are already steeling themselves for the onslaught of three weeks of 'Most Highly Flavoured Gravy, Gloriaa-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a', but if we let ourselves, we too will be intoxicated by it every time, and for that I thank God.
My reason for writing this was to remember some people. While we wail out our favourite carols, there will be frightened children who will watch what we do from afar. They may even be there, in body if not in spirit. There will be children who will know no love or warmth this Christmas, and I will hold them in my prayers every day. I want also to remember the beleagured people whose work (often thankless) is to discover this pain and suffering and often save these little-ones' lives before it is too late. Often they succeed, but every once in a tragic while, they discover the pain of a child too late to help. May God bless them and all for whom they work so hard.