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“From the Colors of thanksgiving to the bells of Christmas”

November 2022, was my first

thanksgiving in the U.S. with the ICCN. For me it was like a dream. I never thought about celebrating this feast in Chicago, IL. It was such a beautiful day, everybody was cooking and decorating the house on the eve of Thanksgiving preparing for the celebration. For me, every day is Thanksgiving Day. I am grateful for so many things and blessings in my life. The thought that came to my mind was that this day brings lots of joy to everyone. The preparation for thanksgiving and decorating the house for Christmas are two of the most delightful experiences of my life. I’ve seen many people decorating their homes and lawns and buying so many things for their children, relatives and, friends. Children are making gift lists for Santa Claus to let him know what they want him to bring them this year. Everyone seems so happy.

As I saw all these preparations, my mind also went to those who cannot celebrate the way many in the U.S. can celebrate. So, I dreamed that it would be wonderful if maybe Santa would lose all the children’s names and addresses? My dream is that Santa would then go all the way to the other side of the world to countries like where I come – Pakistan - and go to the houses of the poor. He would distribute all the gifts to the many poor children who have never had a chance to receive a single present ever in their lives. My dream is that these needy children would receive the candies, sweets and presents so that they, too, would experience the beauty of Christmas. I know this is a dream, and I truly would not want to disappoint all the children who wrote letters - but in a loving, perfect world, this is my hope and dream.

This Christmas, I wish that all the poor and needy will receive a present of joy, happiness, and peace. As they receive and welcome the infant Jesus into their lives, may they receive what they have not received before. We celebrate Christmas with passion and zeal but maybe I/we, do not think enough about the other side of the world, and even those here in the U.S. I have seen sadness on the faces of children and fear on the faces of fathers who do not know how they will provide for his children. Many, many thoughts go through a mother’s mind-- what is she going to cook, what can she give her children as treats? Children wait for gifts, candies, and sweets but they do not know that their father cannot afford these things that would bring them happiness. Every year they just have to wait and wait and wait. This wait never ends. The Advent waiting goes on and on. This year I wish that the wait will end and happiness will start pouring into their lives like snow from the sky.

The ICCN continually gives me a new way to see the world and especially this world without all the bright colors of Christmas. I have learned to also see the DARKNESS. Many have never seen the colors and the beauty of happiness. This year, as a novice at the ICCN, I have learned how to open my heart to feel the pain of those who are in pain. This year gave me a new soul to see the unseen and feel what those who have little feel and walk with them in their loneliness. I have been privileged and had the experience here in Chicago to hold the hands of those who are sad and suffering and say, “Let us prepare the world for the infant Jesus who brings us the strength to keep alive hope”.

Christmas is a season of joy, peace, and happiness. Jesus was born in a manger in such a simple manner. The King was born in a stable. What do I do? Where is my simplicity? Where do I stand with Jesus? Do I keep Jesus alive in me for all to see? What is my role in welcoming Jesus into my life so that others may see Jesus in me? These are questions that I ask myself and this is the work I want to continue all of my life.

This Advent/Christmas season I pray that all the people of this world would come together ignoring all those things that keep us apart: caste systems, race, and different beliefs and creeds. I pray that we find ways to join our hands together to say WELCOME to the baby Jesus born so many years ago and that we can make this world a better place for Him to live in us today and among us forever.

Merry Christmas

Maribah Ishaq ~ Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross

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