By Meloee Nazaire
Jane Todd Crawford, a 46-year-old mother of four from Kentucky, thought she had room for one more. As time went on, she grew concerned about her pregnancy. Understanding that she needed medical attention, she sought it. Given the unusual timeline of her pregnancy, doctors thought it’d be best to induce her labor. But they did not find a baby; Jane had been bearing a 22-pound tumor. There was nothing left to do but await death, but Jane was a woman of faith. She refused to believe that there was nothing left to do but await her last breath as her children watched. She sought the help of Dr. Ephraim McDowell, an American physician and surgeon. He only confirmed what others pointed towards, but unlike her other doctors, he suggested he perform an experimental abdominal surgery to hopefully extract the ovarian tumor. This was something that had never been successfully performed and doctors all over warned that trying it was a mistake. Ignoring the warnings, and refusing to succumb in fear of failure, Crawford traveled 60 miles to Dr. McDowell’s home to perform the surgery.
The operation occurred on Christmas morning in 1809 in McDowell’s living room. Dr. McDowell removed the tumor. It was the first successful ovariotomy. Crawford returned home 25 days after, and lived for another 32 years.
That very morning, Jane got her life back. That very morning, she earned 32 more years with her children, 32 more years of laughter, tears and freedom. Every Christmas, she was reminded of that experience – the miracle that let her celebrate her new life and new beginnings.
Even in times of War, Christmas means something, a positive something. During World War I, starting on Christmas Eve, German men would leave their own trenches and walk over the Britain’s’ side.
They recited “Merry Christmas” in their own language. The British and Germans would exchange gifts such as cigarettes or plum pudding. At times they would occupy themselves with a few games of good natured soccer. They even sang Christmas carols together. This was known as the “Christmas truce.” On this day they were not enemies. They were merely brothers celebrating a day of Peace with one another.
Today, many of you may have miracle stories of your own to share. Many of you have stories of Truce, Rebirth or second chances to provide eager ears. I know I do.
A few years ago, I spent my Wednesdays volunteering at the First Congressional Church Food Pantry. Some other members of the community would also come by and help supply provisions to those in need. Though I haven’t been back in awhile, I haven’t forgotten the recipients’ smiles and the joy that erupted in my heart knowing that I was part of that experience.
Revere has done nothing but grow over the past few years; we have flowered a beautiful community shaped by numerous diverse cultures. Cultures that, at the end of the day, share the same values as we do. We all work hard to make our community closer than ever. Our world is constantly changing. Our minds are broadening and our hearts, accepting. Traditions, as expected, change as well. The definition of Christmas has expanded over the years. This is more than the celebration of the birth of Christ. More than a prayer and an obligated family dinner.
Christmas in a changing world is a commemoration to Rebirth, Truce and second chances.
The author read the above essay during the Robert Marra Sr. ‘Sounds of Christmas’ concert on Sunday in St. Anthony’s Church. It is hoped that this will be the first in a long line of students from the high school to read an essay on Christmas at the annual event.