Working on Christmas

It’s easy to get discouraged around the holidays, especially this year. With all the riots, protests and unrest going on in America this Advent season, at times it has been hard for me to proclaim “Joy to the World, the Lord is come.”

This Christmas marked a first for me— today, I’m celebrating the birth of Jesus away from my family because of work. I’m not complaining; I’m thankful to be employed at a job that I enjoy. But it’s been interesting.

I’ve been on police scanner duty all week, and the things I’ve covered have offered some striking contrasts to the holiday season.

Last night I covered an armed robbery where two men stole a case of beer and a tray of cash from a convenience store. They were caught shortly afterward, and are spending Christmas in jail because of a stupid decision. I missed midnight mass while covering the incident, so I went to church today, with a headphone in one ear listening to the blotter on my phone.

As I genuflected and took my seat, the dispatcher toned out a medical emergency for an elderly man who needed assistance. During the homily about Christ’s arrival being an event that brought light to a world filled with darkness, a car accident was reported, with those involved only suffering minor injuries. Right before I took the headphone out on my way up the aisle to receive communion, the dispatcher called medics for someone who was possibly suicidal. Other various injuries and domestic disputes were also toned out before the mass was over. Fathers threatening to abuse their girlfriends, ambulances rushing to assist sick people. It became easy to think that there was little light in people’s lives today, despite what the priest was saying.

And then, after I got home, for about two hours, the scanner was relatively silent. Maybe because everyone was at home enjoying each others’ company, opening presents and eating Christmas dinner. Maybe bickering families decided to put aside their differences and enjoy each other, if only for a day. Maybe everyone genuinely tried to see the good in each other in the name of Christmas, whether they believed in its religious significance or not. Maybe everyone cared for each other just a little bit more than usual.

Whatever the case, those hours of silence gave me a little bit of hope. Every Christmas I choose to believe that humanity’s goodness can overcome its darkness, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. That hope, I believe, is the real gift that Christ gives this season.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Merry Christmas.

Photo found here.

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