December 20, 2022 would have been my mom’s 100th birthday. Joan was born on the (almost) shortest and the darkest day of the year. Yet she shed light on all those she met through her kindness and empathy. In the image I choose here for her–as the Virgin Mary in a church pageant when she was just 16 years old–her beatific face gazes at a doll or flashlight depicting the baby Jesus. She was a precocious writer, compassionately considering His birth in this poem from Mary’s perspective written the previous Christmas of 1937 when she was only 15.
Mary’s son was not cold
When the Wise Men came with gold
Mary’s son was newly born
When the shepherds came with morn.
Mary bore her son alone
While above the wonder shone
Of the star on just that night
Led the shepherds there aright.
All the years since then have passed
Stars that shine will ever last.
Why did that star only then
Shine and never once again?
Only once He came to Earth
Only once proclaim His birth,
But each year at Christmastide
Yet we think of Him who died,
And was born in that small town
While the Wonder Star looked down.
Let all the heavens still proclaim
Honor to His Holy Name.
May all of us consider those who are vulnerable this holiday season!