The holiday did finally drain me: too much activity. And the emotional stuff. We saw many more relatives than we expected, and didn't have presents for them all. I always feel a little bad about that when it happens. Still, love and hugs make up for the lack.
However, the defining Christmas moment came not from gifting, incoming or outgoing.
Remember when I mourned Beirut? It came back to me Sunday, during a visit with a Lebanese-American neighbor. My sadness was nothing next to her very real fear for displaced family.
One can mourn the urban beauty and former glory. But this lady's siblings fled their home, and then their city, and have even spent time living in nearby caves. Our friend choked on tears as she explained that her packages no longer reach her relatives. She felt anxious and hopeless in the face of letters begging for her aid.
It still hurts to see the mess made of Beirut and even Bethlehem. Christian and Muslim, merchants and professionals, tradesmen and service providers, were all getting along, thriving side by side, for decades. It shames me to say that before Sunday, there was no real face to put in those neighborhoods being destroyed by the ongoing conflict.
Now there is. She told us she stands at the window facing East and rages against God and her own helplessness. She can do nothing to save her family from hardship and danger. She knows her tears are not enough, and she said she has no more prayers left.
So I promised to pray for her family. Her siblings are mine now.
I wish I could do more.