A New Theory of Relativity (Part 2): Love, No Age Limit Is Required
"So I'm offering this simple phrase to kids from one to ninety-two, although it's been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you."
"The Christmas Song," originally penned in the summer of 1945 by Robert Wells and Mel Tormé, was first made famous by Nat King Cole and his legendary trio in the winter of 1946. It quickly became a Christmas classic, a beloved Christmas anthem. While Christmas certainly would not be the same without "The Christmas Song," the lyrics to this modern Christmas carol have bothered me ever since I was a child for one reason: Anna Johnson.
Anna Johnson was an elderly Jewish woman who my mother befriended during my childhood. Anna passed away in 2005 at the age of ninety-six when I was only eight years old. She loved nothing more than sitting down with friends of every age and swapping stories over curly fries from Arby's and a Frosty from Wendy's—two of Anna's favorite snacks. Of all the people I have encountered in my life thus far, Anna ranks among the top of the list as one of the most loving and kind. She made loving others look effortless.
In my previous post, I quoted Albert Einstein's famous words, "Time is relative; its only worth depends upon what we do as it is passing." If this is true, if time's only worth depends upon whatever we choose to do as it is passing, then I would say Anna Johnson passed her time well. Rather than the headline of her obituary reading "Anna Johnson loved her Jewish heritage," it really should have just read "Anna Johnson loved."
Anna listened whenever anyone spoke, she rarely shared her opinion on anything, and she taught lessons through stories from her life. She always spoke openly about her relationship with God and how she had come to know Jesus while living in New York City during the Roaring Twenties; Jesus had changed everything for her. Anna loved without an agenda, and her final days were filled with nothing but love. When listening to the lyrics of "The Christmas Song" as a child, the only thought that would go through my young mind was how dare they not include my 96-year-old friend in their lyrics because I loved her too.
While "The Christmas Song" sets an age limit in its lyrics, love has no age limit. Love can be freely shared at any age, at any time, in any place, and in so many beautiful ways. For Anna, it was felt and shown through conversations over curly fries and a Frosty. I have felt it recently here in South Korea, too, while singing "All I Want For Christmas Is You" late at night with my friends Stefano and Beth under a big Christmas tree in the middle of Seoul, making onlookers around us smile. I felt it last week when a student shared with me how he feels more confident in his English speaking abilities now just because I am a comforting presence in his life, and I feel it each time my middle school host brother yells "James!" whenever I return home and proceeds to sprint out of his room to hug me before I can take my shoes off in the doorway. Love from all ages is powerful.
For kids from one to sixteen, to twenty-three, to fifty-five, to ninety-six, to a hundred and seventy-two, we all are given the opportunity to love however we choose: through a smile, a kind word, a back scratch, a well thought-out gift, some quality time, or even taking out the trash (how I showed some serious love to my host family this last week in the cold).
Love does not have to be difficult—it really can be as effortless as my ninety-six year old friend made it seem through the way she lived her beautiful life.
Of all the things we can choose to do in this life as time passes, I would say love ultimately holds the greatest worth.
Go and love the people around you this holiday season. Time passes, but love lasts.
With Hope and Love,
James Davisson is just a small man with a big heart, serving a much bigger God.