Many years ago, my wife and I arrived for church services on a Sunday about this time of year. In the months prior our congregation had a new pastor. He was a great Irish guy named, Kelly. (All Irish guys are great... right?) I had come to recognize that when he crafted his message each week, he was thinking only of me. Each week, it felt like he was talking to no one else. He would routinely ping me right in the middle of my forehead, discerning exactly what I needed to hear. I still haven't figured out how he did that.
This particular Sunday message (right near Thanksgiving) posed this question:
Are you planning to DO Christmas this year, or simply OBSERVE it?
Christmas is a time of year when mankind often chooses to be at its best. It really doesn't require one to be Christian. There are many reasons for celebrations in life. My Jewish friends celebrate Hanukah. There are certainly other holidays, as well. In every case, it is the ambience of the season - with carolers, decorations, cards and reminders everywhere - which allows us to unabashedly shine.
The pastor's question really was this: do I intend to take an active part in this global celebration of mankind? Am I going to proactively show that I am thankful and that I truly care for the other people who share this planet with me? Observing would leave me sitting on the sideline. I would spend the season saying things like, woulda, coulda, and shoulda. Which course would I choose?
My wife and I talked about it. We agreed to pick up the pastor's challenge. We would attempt to share the love of our God and our faith with others this season. Though our efforts were simple, the rewards we received were greater than any we could have ever imagined.
So, What Does This Have To Do With Coppery?
Well, allow me to speak to others of my genre. I suspect that you have heard the mature cops in our ranks lament about the younger generation. Often, complaints come about the loss of the brotherhood. We talk about the old days when we hung out and did everything together. To some, it may have seemed like we were living in a commune of cops. We surrounded ourselves and immersed ourselves in the world of being a cop.
I cherish those times, even now. Going to Police Week in D.C. each year immediately comes to mind as a current equivalent, but yes, it is different today. There are many theories about why; that is a different story for a different time.
Police Week is a BIG event. It's easy to do all of the brotherly things there. It's like going to a cop's funeral. With all its pain, a funeral is another place where we do not fear to be a cop, right to the core. However, daily life is not laden with BIG events. Instead, there are bunches of little, seemingly unimportant, events that do not seem to matter.
This is where we have an opportunity to make a difference. We have a chance to teach the young by example. At this time of year, it might be described as choosing to DO Christmas. If you reflect on it, DOING Christmas is an opportunity. This season is a time when you can decide to love your brothers and sisters and to act openly upon it.
We adults no longer go to see Santa, sit on his lap and tell him what we want under the tree Christmas morning. Yet our wants haven't gone away, although the objects of our desire have likely changed. I certainly still want my toys - much to the consternation of my wife.
As I've gotten older, things are much less important than they were in years gone by. Our kids are raised and on their own. Our home is smaller now. Today, I find intrinsic joy in the love of my wife and my brothers in blue. Knowing that I am loved satisfies one of the most fundamental of my wants and needs.
This is the time, the chance, and the place to make the love you feel for your brothers and sisters come alive. I look at it this way: I am passing along the love I have received to other people in my life. It's done in little ways. The hard part is staying tuned in.