On a recent visit to one of our ministry partners in Mozambique, Reencontro, our Africa Projects Officer received a letter of thanks that seemed very fitting to share with you during this Advent season. It’s from 17-year-old Carolina, a girl caring for her siblings after their parents passed away.
My family has a yearly Christmas tradition. After a marathon day of holiday baking, we all settle down with warm cups of peppermint hot chocolate and watch the Christmas classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I always find myself cheering for the film’s protagonist, George Bailey—especially when he uses his own money to help save the poorest residents of Bedford Falls from the impact of the stock market crash.
For Catholics, the Christmas season doesn’t end until January 6, known as the Feast of the Epiphany. The holiday commemorates the Wise Men who visited the baby Jesus some time after his birth.
When God told Joseph and Mary about the forthcoming birth of Jesus, they could have resisted the news. After all, conceiving a child out of wedlock was a serious matter. But we know they each accepted the noble assignment with tremendous faith and trust. Joseph “did what the angel of the Lord commanded” (Matthew 1:24) and followed through with the wedding.
At this time of year, we receive Christmas cards from our mission partners in the field. We are continually blessed by these handmade cards and personal notes from orphans we support in Haiti, students in the Philippines, and the Catholic missionaries we support in Latin America and Africa.
Every year the U.S. Census Bureau collects data on the nation’s Christmas spending habits. A few of this year’s stats: $16.6 billion. Number of cards, letters, and packages the U.S. Postal Service will deliver between Dec. 1 and Christmas this year. $4.3 billion. The value of U.S. toy imports from China between January and August 2009 to stock stores for Christmas.