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Merry Christmas! There is cause for rejoicing here!

For as long as I can remember, a soft, stuffed elf toy made its appearance in our home at Christmas time.

Oh, there were the usual decorations — a Christmas tree, wreaths, and, of course, the Nativity Scene. But this elf had primacy of place, hanging from a thumbtack pressed into the archway between the living room and dining room of my childhood home.

And when we moved into a new home during my college years that elf went with us. There he could be found hanging from the “chandelier” over the dining room table. His usual grin and little tuft of blond hair peeking out from beneath his elf cap were still intact.

So, it was no surprise that during the distribution of treasured objects following the closing of that family home after my parents’ deaths, my brother snatched that elf to take to his own home to share with his children. (I landed my mother’s favorite Drummer Boy music box!)

Interestingly enough, that elf hung from the archway between his living room and dining room until … well, until their somewhat exuberant dog destroyed it one Christmas before it had been placed in its usual safe perch.

As you know from reading the blog, our elf bit the dust so to speak. This is the closest image I could find of what we had in the house.

When I arrived at their home for my annual Christmas visit that year, my sister-in-law broke the news and shared my brother’s emotional response. I wasn’t surprised that he shed a few tears — it is probably what I love best about my brother — that things like elves hanging in your house at Christmas mean something to him. I don’t remember saying much to him about it except that I understood — and dogs will be dogs.

Dogs will be dogs. Things don’t always turn out the way we want them to. Pain and sorrow touch each of our lives. Life demands that we let go and move on.

So, what’s the Christmas message here?

Christmas reminds us that God has become one of us in Jesus. God shares in our humanity, especially our suffering. And perhaps most importantly, God’s incarnate loves tells us that sorrow and sadness will NOT have the last word. Even when it is hard to see it, the world has ultimate value and meaning in God. There is cause for rejoicing here even in these Covid-19 days.

The Tomaszewski Christmas Elf has come and gone, but the love and care that little guy represented remains in and with each of us so touched by that love. The Christ has come, but the fullness of Christ is us. We are that love incarnate now. We are the body of Christ.

Merry Christmas! There is cause for rejoicing here!

May you and your loved ones celebrate and treasure all that is meaningful and important to you this Christmas and throughout the coming new year.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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6 Comments

  1. Debbie Dillow on December 23, 2020 at 6:28 am

    Beautiful! The “Elf on the Shelf” must be a descendant of your elf that was shared each Christmas watching over the family as they grew. Just as God watches over us as we grow, hopefully, closer to the Divine each year of our life. Happy Christmas!

  2. Ken Siarkiewicz on December 23, 2020 at 11:52 am

    A Blessed Christmas and Christmas Season to you and all the Sisters of Providence and the Associates.

  3. Debbie Patton Gildea on December 24, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Sr. Dawn, Your Christmas reflection is so wonderful and so down to earth! We all can connect w the elf and the dog and your brother sounds so dear.
    Thank you for your words!
    Deb Patton Gildea ‘74 (it was a good class, wasn’t it Dawn?)

  4. Cathy Dearing, PA on December 25, 2020 at 7:08 am

    Sister Dawn

    Wonderful and meaningful reflection for Christmas. I’m reminded of the quote ‘To all that was, thanks; to all that will be, yes.’

  5. Eileen Horan, PA on December 25, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Merry Christmas, dear Sister Dawn. We all had an “elf” in our Christmas decorations. For us it was a musical Christmas bell that hung in my grandparents’ house and now hangs at my brothers house. It reminds us that love is passed down from generation to generation and never leaves. Thank you for your beautiful reflection. ❤️

  6. Cathy Dearing, PA on December 25, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Sister Dawn,

    Very meaningful reflection. Calls to mind the quote ‘To all that was, thanks. To all that will be, yes.’

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