Sparkling lights, hot chocolate by a cozy fire, feelings of peace and calm, all is merry and bright. Those were the sentiments I wanted to be writing about, as I frantically tried to get a post-Christmas blog entry done. The flu happened instead, causing changed and cancelled plans, disinfectants and laundry, missed visits and tired parents. And a missed blog deadline. I didn’t feel the joy to the world or the heavenly peace I thought I was supposed to be immersed in. I felt mad, robbed of the warm glow of the season.

So I pathetically turned to Facebook to vicariously live out the holiday through Christmas celebrations of my “friends.”

Until I stumbled upon a stranger.

I had met him a few days earlier—a man sharing his Christmas spirit by posting 12 days of Christmas carols. He was a gifted pianist, and had posted a video of “Ere Zij God,” and it so happened to be played on the huge pipe organ in the church I grew up in. It had brought back feelings of nostalgia, of Christmases past. But now it was Christmas Eve, and this stranger appeared again on my newsfeed. Instead of posting his final, twelfth day carol, he was spending time in the hospital, where his Christmas joy was reading stories to his young children before they went home and got tucked in bed.

Then on Christmas Day, when I was basking in my clean-up, he appeared one more time. From the hospital again, toting around an IV, awaiting his eventual treatment on Christ’s birthday.  A guy whose family had missed their flights to spend Christmas where they should because of a disagreeable body. A guy who wasn’t spending his day in the presence of decorated trees, stuffed turkey, and advent candles. Stumbling upon a baby grand in the hospital lobby, he sat down and played “Joy to the World” (and 45 minutes of more Christmas carols) for all whose magical day involved being at the hospital.

I’m no piano player nor do I know very much about music in general, but I called my sick kids together and we listened and watched…and felt what joy to the world really was.