Column: To My Chilton People at Christmas:

Published 4:01 pm Monday, December 18, 2023

By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist

Hopefully, as the clock counts down to Christmas, you are ready. Being “ready for Christmas” to some can mean the shopping list is complete, decorations are done and fresh bed sheets have been prepared for the family and friends coming to visit. Being “ready for Christmas” can mean so many things in our culture. Some of my favorite Chilton County traditions at Christmas that I look forward to each year are the Thorsby star, lit atop of the water tank, and listening to Santa drive around town on a firetruck on Christmas Eve. I also love the beautiful way locals decorate their yards to increase the Christmas cheer.

However, Christmas does not always look beautiful and charming to everyone. As perfect as we try to make the holidays appear with snow globes, mistletoe and “stockings hung by the chimney with care,” the world is hurt, hungry, broken and in need. This year alone has been witness to wars, children massacred, political hatefulness and overdoses. This ugliness is not just in faraway places, but also within our small community. I am always surprised to learn that murders have happened here, local acquaintances I grew up with have died from using Fentanyl and local teenagers are trying to kill one another. Why do these things happen here?

Jesus was also born into a tumultuous world, but his birth signified (and still signifies) the only answer for hope, healing and restoration in this world. The conditions of his birth were lowly and humble so that every person, from all socio-economic classes could know him.

Most of the world has lost sight of the One that offers hope and love. His hope and love are endless with possibilities. Thinking about the “Hope of God” always makes me remember one story in particular. Years ago, I was comforting and praying with a woman that had lost her children because of her substance abuse issue. Her children had been placed into foster care. She was actively working to clean her life up, but had been told on that day by the court that the time had lapsed for her to claim them and that the children were being adopted out. She wept uncontrollably the entire time I prayed with her. The courts assured her that it was no longer possible for her to be a parent to them. However, she held on to the hope and love she felt from Jesus Christ. She kept working on her life and shortly after that date she got her children back. Years later, they are all living a happy, beautiful life and Jesus is the center point of everything they do as a family.

It seems that everything the world does and says is motivated by greed, hate and anger (none of the main characteristics of Jesus). My late father used to say, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” It is time that we all evaluate what problems we have in our own individual lives and ask God to help us with them. No matter what life has issued, even if it is seemingly impossible, hold on to the hope and love of Jesus Christ. That is what being “ready for Christmas” really is —looking the world’s evil and impossibilities in the face and telling them, “no, Jesus has something better for me.”

May you all find His hope, joy, peace and love this Christmas.