I sometimes have a bit of trouble with Christmas. No, I'm not Scrooge. At least I don't think I am. But at this time of year, like countless other people, I deeply miss those I have loved and lost. And amidst the twinkling lights and the merry making, I sense subtle hypocrisy. Why must goodwill toward men be assigned a season? Why isn't it a daily creed for all? Not everyone understands my sentiments, but I had a friend who definitely did. Her name was Reverend Peggy Ray.
Peggy had a giving, sensitive heart. During our many conversations, I was comforted by her soothing voice and prayerful words. Back in 2010, when I was feeling less than cheerful and struggling to write a holiday column, Peggy coincidentally sent me a poem, her version of “The Night Before Christmas”. Her words so perfectly captured my feelings that I asked if I could use the poem in my column. Ever generous, Peggy agreed.
This lovely lady passed away on November 25th, 2013. She will be truly missed, but the joyous light that was Peggy Ray has not been extinguished and will live on in each and every life she touched. As a tribute to Peggy, my dear friend, and to dispel the “trouble” with Christmas so many (like me) suffer each year, I once again offer you “The (New) Night Before Christmas” penned in 2010 by Reverend Peggy Ray of Lincroft, a woman for whom goodwill toward men was a way of life, and not merely an annual exercise.
The (New) Night Before Christmas
Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse.
Yet I was awash in most palpable fear
The end of the night was too soon drawing near.
I had presents to wrap and gift cards to write.
As it was, I would not lay my head down this night.
Anger flared inside me; weariness washed through my bones.
Why was I facing this night all alone?
A feast yet to cook and so many to please.
It hardly seemed fair I had no time for ease.
I hung my head low; I had no time to weep
If I was to hope my commitments I'd keep.
What had changed my old childish joy and delight
to the dread that I wouldn't survive this one night?
Where was the stillness, the peace I once felt,
When in my church pew I had prayed while I knelt?
I clearly recalled the glad tidings and joy,
the tenderness I felt for the wee infant boy.
He had come to fill all our hearts with great Love.
He had brought us the lesson of rising above.
To help us replace our petty, hurtful spite,
To focus instead on goodness and light.
It is easy to do when we remember His claim
that deep inside we are all quite the same.
We all share a burning heart light within,
Ignited in us when our lives did begin.
All Masters have taught compassion is key.
Kindness is learned at our own mother's knee.
Patience and mercy, steadfastness and care,
These are the gifts we can all choose to share.
My warmest wishes for you at this holiday time;
Accept all the Love sent to your heart from mine.
Receive it within and let it burn bright,
Then pass it to all you encounter this night.
copyright: Reverend Peggy Ray/2010
Peggy, may your “heart light” shine on in the heavens! And may those of us struggling with Christmas once again this year take your sensitive, wise words to heart.