"Voices of Youth" is the name of a young group of singers that I interviewed this week for an article that will appear in the Cassville Democrat's Dec. 19 Christmas edition. Voices of youth could also be the title of this week's editorial as I reflect back on a week where youthful perspective played a big role in allowing me to see life through different eyes.
As weather turned ugly and threatened to encase Barry County in ice, I found myself in the company of several children as I was traveling to area elementary schools to pick up this year's "Dear Santa" letters. I found myself running from my car to the front door of one area school, holding my coat up around my neck and muttering to myself about the bitter cold. In my haste, I almost ran over a group of students who were travelling between classes. To my surprise, this group of youngsters wasn't hurrying to class but instead skipping. A couple of the girls were holding hands and singing "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." Their joyful attitudes and total disregard for the cold temperatures caught me off guard and made me smile in spite of the fact that my toes were freezing and I wasn't feeling very festive. Their words reminded me to look for blessings in the midst of every circumstance. I could focus on the bone-chilling cold and threat of foul weather or I could imagine the countryside covered in a delightful frosting of snow just in time for the Christmas holidays.
The next day, I settled down in front of my computer for the annual "typing in of the Dear Santa letters" ritual - a task I share with Lindsay Reed, my assistant editor. Facing a looming deadline for our Christmas issue, I soon found myself hunched over my computer keyboard, frantically typing the requests of area second graders. After a half an hour of furious typing, I suddenly found myself distracted by the children's words and soon I was smiling, laughing aloud and even wiping away a few tears at some of the letters. In the middle of countless requests for Nintendos, X-boxes and I-pods, I found one student who asked for a present for his mother and brother and another who didn't ask for a single thing but instead thanked Santa for the presents he delivered the year before. In some of the letters, children posed questions to Santa that showed their fascination with his North Pole lifestyle and others professed to being nice rather than naughty and even offered Santa specific examples of their good deeds. All in all, these letters are delightful and brought back memories of those magical Christmases when my boys were young. Again, it was a group of youngsters who got my attention, and as a result of their words, I spent the rest of the day typing in those letters with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.
On Monday, I had yet another opportunity to encounter some of our area young people. This time, I interviewed a group of teenage girls face to face and found myself inspired once again. The young women involved in "Voices of Youth" were humble about their talent, but once they got a little more comfortable with my questions, they spoke boldly about their love for Christ and their desire to tell others about His love. Their words were so refreshing and pure and their voices reminded me of angels singing. I left the church where they were practicing with a renewed appreciation for our area youth and a reminder of what Christmas is all about. It's about celebrating the birth of a Savior with hearts overflowing with wonder and joy.
This Christmas season, I hope you find yourself in the company of children. Take time to listen to their words and hopefully you'll find yourself caught up in their innocent excitement. And as you go about your Christmas shopping, remember there are children in our community who won't be expecting much this Christmas. You can help make their holiday season brighter by making a donation to Share Your Christmas. Donations are handled through the OACAC Barry County Neighborhood Center in Cassville.