If you want to know what it is really like in small town Montana look at this week in your own hometown. What people are doing all over the United States is what it is like here every day. I love the week of Christmas because it is the time of the year where the message that Christ gave is told all over the country. People telling other people that they are important. You are important enough for me to take the time to listen to you sing. You are important enough for me to bake these cookies and make you smile. You are important enough for me to sacrifice my sanity in the hopes that you will know you are valued. Christ’s message goes a little further, but this week shows people who won’t admit it really know the message.
Today was a full day. It began with the smaller children giving a performance as part of the church service. By now one would think that I’d be used to it, but that nodding in to point and admire the children gesture gets me every time. In a world where people feel compelled to share everything that makes them angry about what is happening in the world, it is nice to see people talking about what brings them delight. And the things that bring them delight are little Cayden who sings confidently-maybe a little too confidently, because he knows all the words to the song. Or little Valerie who overcame her shyness and whispered her one word line into the microphone.
Another way Arcadia is special is the caring doesn’t end when the church program is over. Activities continued throughout the day. And it wasn’t a Lutheran, or a Catholic or a Methodist activity. As it is with most events in Arcadia, it may have started one place but it ends with everybody getting involved. And those of us that were brave or just really felt the need to share the holiday joy climbed on the back of a hay insulated truck and sang Christmas carols to the community. We were a human version of the ice cream man. Without the ice cream.
And it was well received. People came out of their homes into the cold and listened to us sing. The countenance of the people changed from I’m getting ready to go to bed to something like “wow they came to my house.” They clapped and delighted as we gave our best effort at one of over 20 songs. Hopefully some of the others would agree with me when I say that I had fun relearning the words to songs we only get to sing for five weeks of the year.
And like that, the day was over. As quickly as it began. People hugging goodbye and saying Merrry Christmas. The goodbyes were so sincere I thought people were leaving town. I had to ask, “Are you going to be at church on Christmas Eve?” The response again and again was yes. And then I remembered this is Arcadia. The place where people mean it when they say, “You are special.”