Amazing transformations

Some amazing transformations happened here at St. James this weekend. They happened during our Saint Nicholas party on Saturday afternoon, at which the five families we are sponsoring during this Christmas season were the guests of honor.

As the families began arriving, I watched with joy as names on gift tags were transformed into real boys and girls.

We met the little charmers who are asking for bikes and dolls and Legos. We met their big brothers and sisters, who were invariably polite and protective of the younger kids. We did some mental calculations about shoe size and shirt size, and hoped our purchases would fit. We met moms and grandmas, and heard first-hand accounts of their lives and their struggles. We bonded over pizza and cookies and bingo.

We fell in love with these kids, and the one sentiment I heard expressed over and over was how much we wished we could be there with them on Christmas morning, to see the joy in their faces. Oh, how we’d love to keep these kids!

As the party went on – as Chris Minich donned mitre and crozier to become St. Nicholas, and a seemingly impregnable piñata at last yielded its treasures, and stockings were distributed with much glee – we also were transformed. I think for awhile we shed our veneer of maturity and put on something we hadn’t worn for awhile: youthful joy and excitement.

It was wonderful to hear the sounds of children’s laughter filling our parish hall, and I couldn’t help but think of Christmases past when earlier generations of St. James youth must have screeched with joy at one holiday event or another.

My Christmas wish is that this transformation continues, that life continues to flow into St. James in loud, messy, joyful abandon. May all our parties be so filled with wonder. May we continue to shower love on everyone who walks in our doors. May the generous spirit of St. Nicholas continue to inspire us. And may the Christ child find a home here, in our midst.