I was born on June 1, 1943. And believe it or not, I have a small memory from my very first Christmas, the first conscious memory of my life. My Mother was rocking me in the old rocking chair my daughter now has, and she was singing Silent Night.
The world was at war then. It was a scary time, and many families were afraid, enduring the loss of loved ones in faraway lands, goods were rationed, many still suffered from the Depression. It was not such a happy time. And truth be told, having another baby for my 45-year-old father and 38-year-old mother was probably not in their plans, either. I think they were trying to be more optimistic than they felt when they named me “Merry”.
Daddy was already a veteran of World War One, barely making it back alive as an eighteen-year-old from unspeakable horrors at Belleau Wood, Meusse-Argonne, Chateau-Thierry. He sold automobiles, the hot new product when he got back, and now, with the War, there were no cars to sell, so he took a job guarding the telephone company. My Mom had to give up her bank job due to a difficult pregnancy, and so things were tough, and uncertain, that first Christmas of my life.
But she rocked me, and she sang, and they survived and we lived a life filled with love and the traditions and values of Christmas. And now, it is Christmas again. I decorate our tree with the same old glass ornaments that adorned my tree as a child. I guess they are “antiques” now, like me! I carefully set up the little crèche my Mom lovingly put out every Christmas. And now another new baby will be here, filling our lives with joy, named after the grandfather my daughter never knew, and her dad, and also named honoring her husband’s Chinese heritage.
Again, our country and the world are uncertain, in crisis, and there is pessimism and discouragement abroad in the land. But just as there was so very long ago, and in 1943, and today, there is a baby. There is the pure love of a little child to show us the way. The Baby teaches us all about love, and giving, and faith, and survival, regardless of religion or tradition. The Baby shows us hope and renews our faith in the future.
Because, once again, it’s Christmas, and there is always a baby.