This is too good not to reprint in (almost) its entirety (please forgive, Chicago Trib)
On this night, a comforting message
December 24, 2007
For all the children who should be loved always, but especially on this wondrous night, with our arms around them, and a long good-night kiss on the temple, a kiss more precious than anything wrapped in a box.
For the parents lingering in the doorways of the bedrooms, watching those sleeping shapes. For all the babies who aren't loved and may grow up with a hard crust around their hearts, because someone neglected to plant those kisses and give those hugs.
For every couple that adopts a child to save a life. For those who've tried to have children, but can't. For those who've lost their children. For the kids who've lost their moms and dads.
And for the crazy uncles who will drink too much and tell wacky jokes and put on the red suit and dance outside, before sneaking back in to surprise all those laughing kids. And for the aunts who make sure the coffee is strong, so the crazy uncles sober up.
For the men and women of all the choirs, who've been practicing for months, gathering on weeknights after work in empty churches, so that on this night they may carry us with their harmonies.
And for their voices that gently invite us to humble ourselves, so that we might ask for help to begin scraping away any bitterness that has taken root.
For every friend and relative, uncle and aunt and cousin who haven't waited for this one night to build something important. All year they've been building it, with their concern and love.
They show up on a Thursday afternoon in June, on some cool morning in November. They stop by to see if you are OK. So tonight is theirs, and tomorrow, too, because they are family, by friendship, by blood, by the acts of family.
For those who are far away and can't make it home this year. And for those who've been distant. They figure they've probably been gone too long. They wonder if there still is some chance there is a welcome for them, too.
The door is always open.
Just reach for it and see.
For those who keep their sense of humor, and are able to count to 10 when angry and actually do count to 10, and can forgive after the counting.
And for those who've made bad choices and acknowledge what they've broken.
This is the night that is all about hope. And so, this is the night to begin.
For the guys at the end of the bar, with their smokes, nursing their drinks, half watching the TV, grateful there is a warm place to sit and hear laughter, even the laughter of strangers.
And for the old women alone in their rooms, awake in bed, remembering these nights past and the laughter of children, nights when it wasn't so still, when there was so much to do and a houseful of hungry guests to feed.
For that person at work who laughs too hard at bad jokes and is eager to please, yet is stepped over and can't understand why. For the shy ones at work who would stun you with their grace and talent if they were given half the chance.
For everyone on the night shift tonight, and everyone who has to work tomorrow.
For the families of our police officers, firefighters and paramedics working tonight, and the officers, firefighters and paramedics themselves, who run into danger to help us.
And for all those in hospitals who are ill, who pray for dignity and relief, and for the doctors who take special care of them tonight, and hold their hands; and for the nurses who enter the room later, and pull up a chair, listening to quiet confessions.
For the clergy who struggle with belief, yet find it again, and are renewed.
For every sailor on every ship tonight, and especially those standing watch on the bridge, looking out into cold black water, remembering brightly lit rooms.
For our president and for those who wish to succeed him in the political campaigns, each making loud speeches, knowing that if they do succeed, they too will be terribly alone.
For all the members of the U.S. armed forces who protect us with their bodies. For the members of the intelligence services and the Foreign Service, who put themselves at risk to protect us here at home.
For their parents and their loved ones who wait for them.
For our great nation that faces difficult days.
To those of you whom I've offended by thoughtless and clumsy words and strident tone on bad days. I'm sorry.
For everyone who has kept hold of what's important about this special night.
It is the message brought by that perfect child, born in a manger in Bethlehem so very long ago.
It is all about love.
And I hope it comes to you, and comforts you, and remains.
From my wife, Betty, and our sons, from my mom and from my brothers, and their wives and children, from all of us to all of you and yours.
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune