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A Christmas wish

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When I sat down to write this piece, I intended to remind all of the gifts He's laid before us.

In regard to sports, they've been plentiful, something for which to be thankful on this day of glory.

Yes, even in the Mountain State. Sure, West Virginia University's football team took a nosedive, but Mountaineer fans saw the wonder of Tavon Austin and witnessed the excellence of Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey.

Marshall fans didn't see their football team take the step for which they yearned. But, lo and behold, check the final regular season NCAA passing statistics. In the categories of passing, passing yards per game and total passing yards, No. 1 is MU's Rakeem Cato, Rakeem Cato and, again, Rakeem Cato.

Today, you might have noticed, we honored state native Nick Saban for the second time as our Sportsman of the Year. Yet there are so many West Virginians in the sports world having success. Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace, a Buckhannon native, has his team rolling. Former Griz player O.J. Mayo of Huntington has been starring for the Dallas Mavericks. And, hey, he might be "embattled," but isn't there another West Virginian coaching the Los Angeles Lakers in Mike D'Antoni?

I could go on. But there's been this ringing in my ears.

And it came from the ringing of church bells.

See, this day, this very holy day, is known for its silent night. But the church bells I heard came from a silent morning. It came from a silent mourning.

The ringing, the reverberation, of the 26 bells tolling at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, Conn., during that silent minute last Friday will not go away.

I cannot forget about the 20 children of Sandy Hook Elementary that were tragically gunned down. I still feel the pain, the reverberation, of losing my chubby-legged, wide-smiling baby girl Camille to illness 10 years ago. I can only imagine the additional horror.

Within the sports world, we also watched aghast at the unfolding of the Jerry Sandusky case.

On this Christmas day, however, I submit we pick ourselves up. I submit we do as always and use sports conversation as a maypole around our Christmas dinners.

But I also submit we make sure the loss of the kids and the loss of innocence not pass in vain.

The subject here is not gun laws. That debate is for another writer in another section of this paper.

I'm proposing we honor those children on this day by giving our children the equivalent of 20 hugs. Let's honor those lost by dedicating this day to Jesus through loving our children a little more, by making their day a little brighter.

In my case, I still have a beautiful, perfectly frustrating 15-year-old daughter with strangely colored hair. A daughter that is creative. And good. And funny. With a wonderful heart.

She should know how I feel on this day. She should see me push away from the dinner table, set down my cup of cheer, walk away from the football and basketball games, and convey my love and pride.

If you don't have a child or find yourself alone, take a shower, set aside the hurt, get out and provide an act of kindness. Leave a gift for the child next door. Visit the elderly. Make a call. More than likely, you'll feel better. And, if not, you'll at least know the day was not lived in vain.

That's my Christmas plea. Enjoy the day. Celebrate. Laugh. Argue politics. Debate whether WVU's pass defense has, well, a prayer of stopping Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib.

But pay a little extra attention to those beautiful, sometimes maddening, sparkling gifts that are our children.

The bells that tolled last week were not for them. But let the ringing in our ears honor Him through them.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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