Not much more can be said or done to relieve the pain and suffering of people whose loved ones were murdered on Sept. 11. The empty place(s) at the table this Christmas will be compounded by the empty places in more than 3,000 hearts, multiplied by family members and friends of the victims.
With the exception of NBC's "West Wing," television entertainment has mostly chosen not to make reference to the terrorist attack. Some have felt that getting back to the way things were is the best contribution Hollywood can make to the nation.
This Sunday evening (Dec. 16) on a special "Touched By An Angel" (CBS), Executive Producer Martha Williamson confronts Sept. 11 head-on. Rarely has a current event been married so beautifully to artistic creativity in a way that offers hope and healing, not only to the families of the victims, but to a nation traumatized by those events and afraid of another attack.
Titled "I'll Be Home for Christmas," the story centers on a young boy who loses his favorite teacher when the World Trade Towers collapse. The teacher is also a choir director who heads up the annual Fourth of July Parade in a small New York town. Oh, and he directs the Christmas pageant at the community church.
The boy is in denial about his teacher, believing he will come home, and that he couldn't possibly have died. He leaves phone messages on the teacher's answering machine. They are discovered later by the "angels" and the boy's mother, who happens to be the mayor of her little town and is herself in denial about a lot of things in her life.
"Touched By An Angel," now in its eighth season, continues to pour virtue and even thoughts of God into an entertainment pool that has been largely corrupted by baser things. The show embarrasses some critics but blesses a lot of people, whose allegiance consistently gives the show double-digit ratings, keeping it in the top 20 most-watched programs each week.
Most of the media are embarrassed about God, but Williamson knows that most of the country is not and that many people feel the need of His presence now more than ever. That's why she can write this exchange between the angel Monica (Roma Downey) and Victoria, the mother of the boy who lost his teacher.
(Victoria) "Oh, God! What did they DO TO US! Monica! My country, my country...I don't even know what to start crying FOR! I think about the PEOPLE! Those poor people in the planes. And the ones in the towers. And the firemen, and the children whose mothers never came home. I can't, I just can't process it all. EVERYTHING has changed and nothing feels the same anymore. NOTHING! I can't even look at a Christmas card in the mail without being afraid. And what scares me most, Monica, my God, what frightens me to the deepest part of my soul is that I don't think we were EVER really safe, and now the dream is gone forever. For the rest of my life, I will wake up every morning and have no idea what might happen."
(Monica): "You never knew before, either, Victoria. But now you KNOW that you don't know what can happen. And now when you wake up, you just might begin the day by turning it over to God before it even begins. Because whatever happens, God will not leave you to face it alone. Even if you try to put Christmas out of your mind, God won't let you."
I won't give away the powerful and emotional ending, but if you're not crying and loving this country and the real meaning of Christmas more than you ever have before, then you're a computer chip.
It's too bad we can't see more television series like "Touched By An Angel" but maybe we will if the ratings continue strong. Spread the word. Watch this show. We all need its healing message, especially this Christmas.