Published December 24, 2012
Editor's note: This is a special Christmas essay created and delivered by attorney and Fox News Legal Analyst Peter Johnson Jr and his daughters Blanche and Veronica. As seen on "Fox & Friends" Christmas special, December 25, 2012.
Peter: It’s become our privileged tradition to share our family’s Christmas memories and dreams with you. In early December we experienced what all of us experience at some point -- the loss of a loved one. My giant of a father and Blanche and Veronica’s loving Poppa went to heaven after a long, wonderful life. He was known as a protector of the fallen and a voice for those without a voice.
Blanche: We cried at my grandfather’s passing and we wondered whether the joy of Christmas would be darkened. We always associated Christmas with the boundless joy he and my grandmother brought to children each year with their annual Christmas party.
Veronica: My grandmother and Uncle Chris decided that the tradition should continue. They understood that the birth of Jesus and his message of conquering death was the key to healing and renewal. The Christmas party went on, the children laughed and the parents beamed as we raised funds for charity.
Peter: On the day before the party a madman flashed the face of evil in a little town called Newtown. 26 lives were snuffed out including 20 six and seven year old children. As a father, and as an American, I asked myself what could I do to help? I told the producers I needed to go there and they said, ”Please go. “
Blanche: The next morning my father and I arrived in Newtown as the sun rose. The sky was streaked with red and I asked myself whether the clouds like the grieving mothers and fathers of Newtown had also spent the night crying. My father looked up at the skies too and wondered aloud “how can the skies be so bright on such a dark day.” We went immediately to the St. Rose of Lima church where parishioners wept and we prayed and lit candles in memory of the innocents lost.
Veronica: Later that morning I watched my father interview the pastor of that church, Monsignor Robert Weiss. Monsignor Weiss described how he had broken the news of the death one girl to her brother. We heard how another boy lamented, “ I don’t want to die, I just want to have Christmas.”
Blanche: My father noted that worshippers would march out of the church to a live nativity scene as a deacon announced that there was a star over the stable. The monsignor vowed: “you know we’re not just going to be looking for one star we’re going to looking for these twenty new stars too.”
Peter: At that very moment as I stood in the cold Connecticut air, touched by the souls of the sweet, spotless, sinless, stainless infants, I understood the reality of the renewal and sanctifying grace of the Christ Child. I reminded the audience and myself what Dr. Martin Luther King had said, “Death is not a blind alley but an open door.” But I also worried: they are so young who will greet them at the door?
We said our goodbyes and I prayed for the spirit of Olivia Engel, who was to have been an angel in the Christmas pageant. On that day I summoned my shaken faith and prayed that the families, if they were believers, would draw on theirs, too, and then it came to me. I wanted to hug and reassure them that the strongest, most nurturing guardian of fallen angels I know, my own father, would be standing among those at the gates of heaven to lovingly take the children by the hand to introduce them to their new friend forever, the Christ Child named Jesus born in a little town called Bethlehem.
Blanche: As we left Newtown we were more hopeful then when we arrived. We passed a shrine to the children which included Christmas toys. As the sky turned from red to blue the radio played "Angels We Have Heard on High."
Veronica: On Christmas Day the sweetest notes of glory to God in the highest will be sung by the sweetest angels of Newtown.