During this Christmas season, when the hopes of children flutter and fall like snowflakes on to paper in the form of letters to Santa Claus, the Apalachicola and Carrabelle Times is again pleased to provide readers a glimpse into their world.

But, we ask one thing first.

To remember the simple message of the season.

In Matthew 1:22-23, in a passage recalling the words of the prophet Isaiah, it is written that “The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him ‘Immanu El,” a name which means “God is with us.”

God is with us, each of us and all of us.

God is with us when the blessings of prosperity buoy our boats, and our wishes for toys and other material comforts come true.

God is with us when our families gather together, to feast together in a spirit of comfort and joy.

God is with us when we smile and hug, when we leap and when we dance.

But that is not the only time for the presence of Emmanuel.

When we read of a child who writes that their fondest wish is for their grandma to recover from cancer, God is with us.

When we read the letter of a child who wants a new family because a parent is in prison - as a warning and as a reminder, there, too, God is with us.

When we read of a child who wants only to be relieved of their parents’ persisten bickering, or who thinks that they are the reason one of their parents has left the other, God is with us.

Emmanuel is with us to remind us of the pain and sorrow not that God brings, but that we bring to one another.

God is with us like an amplifier, to make sure our ears pick up the distant, muffled sound of a child in pain, or beset by worry, or fearful of abandonment.

God is with us when disease strikes a family, and makes us powerless against the sovereignty of our mortal being.

Let us count carefully each of our blessings, and know that Emmanuel offers us hope in a world too often fraught with senseless violence, reckless selfishness and callous apathy.

 And through it all, God is with us.