LTJ: Silver & Gold

I can’t believe it’s December, with Christmas just around the corner. When I think of all the shopping I need to do and the events I hope to attend, I become overwhelmed. Then suddenly, I hear Burl Ives, that squinty-eyed, smiling snowman, crooning Silver and Gold. I relax and let my thoughts wander back to an extraordinary moment at the Special Olympics several years ago.

My son, Jay, was competing in the state events at Stillwater. He was positioned at the starting line of the 25-meter walk, having retired from the 50-yard dash due to the progression of his heart disease.  Everyone was poised to take off, including Jay with fingers stuffed in his ears to muffle the sound of the gunshot that signaled the beginning. Never having been a quick starter, Jay surprised everyone as he immediately began his gentle, easy gait toward the finish line, being careful to stay in his own lane. Slow and steady often wins the race and Jay had moved far enough ahead that he was obviously the favored one in this heat.

As he neared the finish line the volunteer on the other side called out excitedly, “Come on, Jay. You can do it!” Just steps away from the gold, the crowd in the bleachers came to their feet and yelled encouragement to my son. What an event! This would be Jay’s first medal. Then suddenly, Jay stopped, turned to the people in the stands and bowed in thanks for their applause, allowing another walker to slip right by him and win the
gold medal.

What a moment! No one knew whether to laugh or to cry. No one except Jay. He turned and walked across the finish line, into the arms of the hugger, and captured the silver medal. He was delighted as he received the award. He didn’t care what color it was or which place he stood on the platform. He was a winner and he was having fun.

When I think of that moment I am so proud of Jay for not rushing across the finish line to grab the coveted gold medal. I’m glad he stopped along the way, enjoyed the applause of the crowd, reveled in the moment and sent a message of thanks to those cheering him on.

What a perfect mindset for Christmas. We don’t need to be so obsessed with shopping and attending every event we can fit into our schedules that we become exhausted before the special day arrives. Like Jay, we need to stop and enjoy the moment, to revel in the season and remember what we are celebrating—the holy birth of Jesus Christ. Once we get our minds off the busyness around us, our hearts are free to worship and rejoice in the birth of our Lord. When we give thanks to the One who gave His life for us, we have a greater capacity to love others and to give wonderful gifts of joy, friendship, kindness, song and laughter, which makes Christmas a much happier and brighter day.

So how about it? Are you going to run as fast as you can? Shop till you drop in order to win the temporary smiles of your children or grandchildren at seeing how many presents they have under the tree, or will you stop and enjoy the journey? Why not spend more time with the special people in your life and give the gift that will thrill their hearts for a lifetime—your love and your presence. You might even adopt a family that has no money for gifts or food, send packages to service men and women overseas, take a plate of cookies to your neighbor or help serve meals to the homeless. These are all silver and gold moments, and like Jay, I want to stop and enjoy them. I feel certain that’s what Jesus would do, and after all, Christmas is His birthday.

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