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Christmas Miracles Abound

| Jodi Schwarzenbach |

The joy and happiness that surrounds the holidays is spectacular.  Seeing the delight people have in sharing gifts given with great thought is so lovely, and to be on the receiving end of this act of kindness is special.  And to see the children. Well, that is what it is all about.  If we could bottle the enthusiasm and exuberance that children lead with during the holidays and turn it into a viable form of energy, we could kick fossil fuels to the curb.  The term “Christmas miracle” is aptly applied to this most wonderful time of the year. 

2022 has proven to be a year for the books.  A literal hurricane roared through our area with a hateful vengeance, leaving destruction and sadness in its wake.  But it is those figurative hurricanes in life that do the most harm.  In early 2022, we were in the midst of such a storm, fighting for our family and wondering if the torrential downpour of a teenager’s angst might bring the rafters down.  It was during this time, I muttered, “it will be a Christmas miracle if we make it out of this.”

As spring passed, the joy of ending the school year with hopes of a carefree summer were quickly brought to a halt by the continuing hurt of a teenager acting out.  I knew I needed to be present for my family so thoughts of work or traveling anywhere were dashed.  Though finances were tight, and the household was on eggshells, we made it through those trying months, solely based on it being a “Christmas miracle.” And when it was time for us all to head back to school, we had no idea the preceding months would be considered the easy times in comparison of what was to come.


In September, we came to a couple of realizations.  First, we questioned how one environment could be so nurturing to one child and destructive to another. In doing so, we concluded we had contributed to our son’s sadness and anger by insisting he stay in a school that was not a good fit for him.  But it was a good school we said, had all the qualifications as the best school.  All the while, our sweet boy became angrier and more withdrawn.  Things came to a terrible head on a pivotal evening when behaviors became so extreme, we knew we were in the midst of something defining .  For a very terrifying few days, we were in the eye of the storm.  Our will was battered, and family bonds were stretched.  It was during those times I prayed for a Christmas miracle to save my family.  Mother Nature had plans for our state so the worries of homelife had to be set aside to prepare for a potential Category 5 hurricane. 

I remember sitting in our home the night the hurricane came through, learning what destruction sounds like.  The next day, when we ventured outside, we were incredulous looking at our vastly devastated neighborhood.  And as the days of no electricity turned into two weeks and we were left needing a new roof, water system, fence, etcetera, we again discussed needing a Christmas miracle to get us through.  And guess what?  Though daunting and expensive, we are navigating the insurance world, denied FEMA requests, and scheduling contractors with relative ease.  We count ourselves especially lucky that we had home and life to return to.

And here we are, a week before Christmas and I see the joy and miraculous wonder of Christmas everywhere.  It is so clear, shining in the lights people have hung to bring joy to their loved ones and neighbors.  I see it in the generosity of gift-giving and sharing homemade treats made with love.  It is evident in the smiles of children who revel in traditions like cookie baking, festive parties and singing familiar songs.  And I also see it in changes that are taking place in my life.

The other day, my husband and I returned home from work to find the garbage had been taken out and the can replaced with a new bag.  We quickly questioned each other, “Did you do that?”  We sat in silence for a delightful moment realizing our son, the one who had been so sad and angry, who had withdrawn from the family, who had refused to clean anything including body, room or….anything, had taken the garbage out, unasked.  It represented a boy willing to come back to us, be a part of the household process and just a kid who cares.  It was the best gift.  I couldn’t have wished for anything better.  Truly, a Christmas miracle. 

Photos from Jodi Schwarzenbach

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