Memories and stories to warm your heart this Christmas

It always seems a shame to have to muddle up a perfectly happy Christmas issue with the real-life news, which, let’s face it, is kind of depressing most of the time.

So let’s get it out of the way quickly. On the heels of yet another brutal, murderous and barbaric attack in San Bernardino, California, we offer some strategies for helping children cope with the news of mass violence (Page 5). The advice of Dr. Joseph White, who is licensed in family and child psychology, is helpful and relevant, and I encourage you to share it. Just reading through it myself was soothing.

There is also a story on payday lending (Page 4), an underreported threat to the poor that many good people are working hard to help prevent.

With the heavy stuff out of the way, I am pleased to introduce this year’s Christmas Memories winners (Pages 9-12). Thank you all for your entries. If yours was not selected, please know that it is nothing personal — we had dozens of entries. This year, perhaps the most exciting addition for me as an editor was that of the “Youth Memories” category. This was not a category that we’d planned on including, but did it out of necessity after receiving several submissions from young people. What a joy it is to know that young people are reading and engaging with Our Sunday Visitor. I hope they are encouraged in their writing pursuits and in their faith by our decision to print several of their entries.

Also in this week’s issue is a beautiful feature about the grotto in Bethlehem where Mary is believed to have nurtured the Baby Jesus for the first time. When I was in St. Augustine, Florida, at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, one pilgrim who was a part of a group that was visiting shared a portion of a packet of milk powder she had received from the grotto with other pilgrims. The excitement was tangible as the women carefully passed around the packet. The story this week introduces you to the many babies who were born to women struggling with infertility. It’s a beautiful story, and I hope you enjoy reading it this Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our Lord.

Speaking of birth, Melinda Selmys (Pages 14-15) had a special Advent this year as she prepares to welcome a child into the world on Dec. 20. During her pregnancy that mirrored that of Mary (at least where a timeline is concerned), Selmys found many opportunities to grow in grace, which she has kindly and personally shared with all of you. I hope you enjoy them.

Finally, from all of us at Our Sunday Visitor, I wish each of you a blessed, happy and holy Christmas season — especially in this Year of Mercy. It is a pleasure to bring the Catholic news to you week in and week out, and I hope that this week you find some stories that warm your heart as well as inform your mind. God bless you!

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Gretchen R. Crowe is editor of OSV Newsweekly