This guest post is by Andrew Apsley.
A Visit from St. Alban
’Twas the night before Christmas, and all Christendom
Sat hoping and waiting for Santa to come.
The cocoa and cookies lay spread on the table
While music rang out and told old Christmas fables.
Our daughter lay down in snug new pajamas,
The heiress of strong economics (thanks, Obama).
And Ma on her iPhone, and I on my Droid,
Were browsing our Facebooks and online tabloids—
When on our front door there came a soft knock;
I looked at my wife and then questioned the clock.
It seemed a bit late, but I went just the same.
I opened the door to witness who came.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Shown dimly between the four figures below.
Their breath fogged the air as they huddled together;
Their dark skin wrapped loosely with clothes all in tatters.
With a little old father, his eyes weak and tired,
A mother and two kids, who were almost expired.
As weak as could be, he raised a bare hand
And whispered a plea though he barely could stand.
“We come from Aleppo—my family and I.
We come bearing nothing but the rags that you spy.
Through the top of our roof; o’er the top of our walls,
The bombs they have dashed away—dashed away all.”
’Twas then I beheld, at the base of his feet,
A pool of fresh blood gath’ring on the concrete.
Ran off to find blankets to keep out their cold.
I turned and I called to my wife down the hall,
“Bring food and warm drinks—in fact, bring them all.”
As I turned back my head to invite the souls in,
I stood shocked that my porch now lay empty again.
I stepped out in the cold and searched all around,
But the man and his family could nowhere be found.
Not north and not south did the family appear;
No footprints on snow drifts—no nothing so clear.
The rags and the blood and his eyes haunting me,
My girl came out holding a blanket and teddy.
She asked where they went, but I had no reply;
In this cold, in those rags, I knew they would die.
With a bundle of food, my wife then appeared,
And told me, “Come in—your poor feet will freeze, dear.”
In the warmth of the hall, with a song in the air,
My daughter then cried: “But that doesn’t seem fair.”
We were chubby and plump; they were withered and broken.
Now after the few words between us were spoken,
They made my heart ache and they forced us to feel.
They were gone, but I knew in my heart they were real;
Whether here on my porch or in lands far away,
There were families and children needing someplace to stay.
Whose homes lay in rubble, whose families lay dead;
Whose lives would be better with just a warm loaf of bread.
The Christ child was lonely that first Christmas eve,
But he grew and he loved and helped others believe.
Though driven from home and hated and scorned,
We remember his gifts and the night he was born.
He healed and he ministered, he fed and he taught,
And showed us that Christmas is more than what’s bought.
So to families, to friends, and to neighbors I invite:
To bring Christmas to ALL, and to ALL a good night.
About Andrew Apsley