A 7-year-old boy, wise beyond his years, set out to prove that sharing holiday joy is best gift.
It is an astronomical mystery. In Christian tradition, a bright and wonderful star appeared in the night sky on the birth of Jesus.
The star was first revealed in the nativity passage of the Gospel of Matthew – and recounted the inspiration the star had upon the three Magi (Wise Men) of the East. According to that Gospel, the three kings found Jesus by following a star; a star that has been traditionally and historically referred to as the Christmas Star.
Of course, with today’s unlimited technology and an unconstrained thirst for substantiation, even our greatest stories have come under intense observation. And this one has been no different.
For hundreds of years, doubters have questioned the biblical account of the star, believing it to be simply a mystery accepted on faith with no supporting evidence other than the stories passed down through the Gospel. There have been astrological papers and books and documentaries devoted to the interpretation of the author of Matthew and at least six purely astrophysical explanations (comet, supernova, etc) have been presented to explain the star described in the testament. There have been historical and alternate views that perhaps the star was an illustrative or metaphorical representation of the prophecies detailing the birth of Christ.
There have even been computer re-creations of the night sky over Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago – all in an effort to substantiate the story presented in the Gospel of Matthew.
Personally I believe in the Christmas Star.
Because I’ve spoken with his dad.
Bradley Thomas is a 7-year-old whirlwind from Canton, Ga., who has just recently completed his Christmas list. But his list is just a wee bit different from most kids his age.
At dinner one evening, he overheard his parents, Dewayne and Christie, talking about a down-on-their-luck local family. A former colleague who had been laid off in February and who has struggled to find work. A family of five who lost their home to an early morning spring fire and, unable to afford renter’s insurance, have been living in a small cramped hotel room since.
“It all started with a community service project he was assigned in his Tae kwon do class,” Bradley’s dad Dewayne told me. “We got the flyer from the class and figured he could cut his grandparents lawn or something.”
Only Bradley had something bigger in mind.
“We didn’t even think that he was listening to us,” Dewayne said. “But he came home one afternoon and said he’d like to raise money for this family. So they could have a Christmas.”
And little Bradley Thomas, terribly wise for his years, set out to prove that a Christmas joy that is shared is the best gift of all.
He began mowing lawns and cleaning gardens and trimming hedges. He even worked in the hair salon of a member of their parish. And when the cold weather came and the outdoor work dried up, Bradley Thomas got even more creative.
“He got up in front of church one day and he asked for donations,” Dewayne said. “It was all his idea.”
And how did the family respond?
“We had them over for Thanksgiving dinner to tell them what Bradley had done,” Dewayne Thomas said. “It was very emotional. They felt very blessed and they were very, very thankful. Thankful that my son had saved their Christmas.”
Say what you want about Christmas – materialism, commercialism, political correctness, whatever. For me, there is always something in the air around this time of year. Something special. The trick is digging through all the other muck and finding what’s really important.
So pull out your telescopes and gaze up into the night sky. If you look long and hard enough, you’ll find it.
This year, like the Star of Bethlehem, little Bradley Thomas has shown me the way.
John Reilly is a graduate of Stonehill College and Notre Dame. A frequent contributor to Wicked Local Sharon, he lives in Sharon with his wife, daughter and son.