Watching head coach Chuck Pagano return to the sidelines Sunday was a thrill for both Indianapolis Colts and NFL fans. Thousands of Indy residents who had just been hit with over a foot of snow and single digit temperatures were grateful to watch their team beat the Houston Texans 28-16 in the comfort of their own homes. The Colts were underdogs but got home field advantage in Lucas Oil Stadium. The win was particularly sweet as coach Pagano made his return to the game after chemotherapy in his personal battle against leukemia. Over a dozen Houston team members hugged and congratulated him after their loss to the Colts. That was cool. It showed great spirit.
As we enjoy the victory for Pagano and the Colts and plan for more holiday festivities as we enter the new year and make new resolutions there are those who won’t. While so many of us still marvel at the spirit of joy and celebration this holiday season brings, there are also many who suffer in stark contrast. The devastation at Sandy Hook Elementary School is still fresh. The continued deprivation of Hurricane Sandy victims adds to the despair felt by many. Despite the sadness, there is still a real feeling of hope in the hearts of everyone which is exactly what the season is all about. An example is the assurance given Sunday by President Obama to push for greater gun control next year. None of us wants to see another massacre of little kids.
Abundant demonstrations of great care and affection have come not only from our loved ones but also from our neighbors and complete strangers during this season. The spirit of love and community is seen throughout America as toys, clothing and food are collected and given to the poor in nearly every town in America. The United Christmas Service in Indianapolis provided food, clothing and toys to more than 22,000 needy families throughout Central Indiana. The Lillian Davis Foundation, named after the late community activist and staunch supporter of education, hosted its annual Christmas party for children attending Indianapolis Public School #44 for over 100 disadvantaged students all of whom are eligible for the national free lunch program. The foundation made sure every child got a chance to talk to Santa, play games in the gym and receive a toy. Four bicycles were raffled as the grand prizes for four very lucky children. Amazingly, one of the grand prize winners was a 10 year-old Latino boy who had just gotten his bike stolen the night before. He couldn’t believe it. His mother cried tears of joy.
The profound grief of Newtown, Connecticut was a harsh confrontation to the merriment that had already begun. The tremendous outpouring of love, concern and generosity from all around the world was deeply touching and reassuring. Just more proof the spirit of the season is alive and well.