Christmas Joy Restored

By Rev. Sandra Campbell
Christmas Joy Restored, Rev. Sandra Campbell, A Christmas to Remember

Losing the excitement of Christmas—and having it repaid 20 years later

December 1, 1974, was the worst day of my life.

It started out like any other day. We were looking forward to the coming of Christmas. Like most parents, we had been making lists and shopping for toys and gifts that our children wanted. Phil and I had just gotten married five days earlier, but we had lived together for two years.

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Christmas Joy Restored, Rev. Sandra Campbell, A Christmas to Remember

I was preparing lunch for the following workday. My 6-year-old daughter, Tami, and 2-year-old son, Tumi (TOO-mee), were on the floor playing with blocks. Their Christmas gifts, purchased at after-Thanksgiving sales, were hidden away under the stairwell, waiting for Christmas Eve when Phil and I would wrap them and put them under the tree while the kids were asleep. We could hardly wait to see the looks in their eyes when they opened them on Christmas Day.

The summer before, Tumi had screamed with excitement and run to the window whenever he heard the clickety-clack of the neighbor boy’s Big Wheel crossing the sidewalk in front of our townhouse. His own Big Wheel was now waiting under the stairwell.

A few hours later, Tumi died unexpectedly, an accidental drowning that turned our lives upside down. Christmas no longer held the same joy and excitement for us.

Clinging to Hope

As time passed, I searched desperately to make sense of it all. I found some inspiration through Daily Word and other books, prayer support from Unity Prayer Ministry, and seminars. I found some hope in a particular scripture: “I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25).

When my father was murdered on Christmas Eve two years later, I began to sink even more deeply into my sadness. But I continued to cling to hope from the Book of Joel.

Then on December 24, 1995, a miracle happened. Our first grandbabies—twin girls—came into the world a month early. Our son PJ, who had been born two years after Tumi’s death, was in college, and his then-girlfriend, now wife, could not have been prepared for the joys and challenges of having twins. But I was. I knew it was the fulfilling of the promise.

After visiting the hospital for the hundredth time that day, I drove to Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City for the Christmas Eve candlelighting service. As I sang with the choir, I kept repeating the scripture from Joel in my mind. This was my restoration day. The promise was fulfilled. For the first time since that dreary Christmas in 1974, I felt my joy restored.

This was my restoration day. The promise was fulfilled. For the first time since that dreary Christmas in 1974, I felt my joy restored.

The Promise of Joy

A few years ago, I received a message that made the promise even more meaningful. I introduced a guest speaker at Unity Temple—Debbie Wojciechowski, a spiritual medium. As she repeated the intuitive messages she was hearing in that session, hands would go up as audience members recognized the presence of their loved ones.

When she described a little boy in an accidental death, she could have been talking about anyone’s child. But I knew it was Tumi. She described a room and a shelf with a framed picture next to a statue of an angel holding a candle. I realized she was describing my hearth room and the mantel above our fireplace, where the bronze angel candleholder sits next to the white frame containing Tumi’s picture and the words: The soul that sorrows is as dear to God as the young soul He has taken home.

She told me he wanted me to know that when I looked up at the picture the other day, he had been standing there. It was what she said next that confirmed Tumi’s presence. She asked whether there were twins and said Tumi wanted me to know he had sent them.

Our family has been blessed with four grandchildren and more joy-filled Christmases. But Christmas 1995 remains my best Christmas ever!

Rev. Sandra Campbell

Rev. Sandra Campbell is associate minister at Unity Temple on the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, and executive director of the Unity Urban Ministerial School. This article first appeared in the Unity booklet for Advent 2021, A Christmas to Remember.