To the Journal editor:
A brief bout of web surfing or a short stint watching TV in October and November could easily have anyone believing that the holiday season equates to nothing more than a hunt for bountiful bargains.
The notion of kindness, generosity and other pillars of Christmas spirit seem unsteady as they are bombarded by the type of commercialism best exemplified by Charlie Brown's dissatisfaction with the aluminum Christmas tree.
That commercialism had me down until I recently attended an Adoption Day celebration at the Hall of Justice in Lansing.
Families from Saginaw and Marquette came to Michigan's high court on Nov. 20 to finalize adoptions. They opened their hearts to provide permanence to children, while opening up a usually private ceremony to bring awareness to the plight of Michigan's 3,000 children who are awaiting permanent homes.
Generosity and kindness were present in the families, but also in the Court and community. Without the promise of publicity, photographers from the families' home towns, including Cory's Images of Marquette, donated portrait sessions to honor the first forever family portrait for each family.
The ultra formal courtroom on the sixth floor of the Hall of Justice featured echoes of children's laughter bouncing off the African Mahogany walls.
Members of the community and court staff donated gifts to the families to recognize the long road to permanency and to honor the hard work of each family member.
Important policy makers looked on, humbled by the gravity of what "family" meant to the children who smiled, laughed, and wept. That day illustrated that commercialism has not diminished the meaning of the season.
Instead, Adoption Day served as a reminder that the pillars of Christmas spirit are ever present throughout the year in the work of child welfare professionals who help children find forever families.
An attorney for one of the children attended the ceremony. When it was over, the child embraced him in a bear hug and playfully beckoned him to take part in the family photographs.
It was not because she knew he was mandated by statute to serve as her legal representative, but because he advocated for her through every step of the journey to get her to her forever family.
As DHS Director Maura Corrigan would say, she knew that he "had her back." And that is enough proof that the meaning of the season is and always was, about celebrating "family."