“Santa” was good to me this year – in fact, I’m wearing two gifts right now and brewing another – but best of all was gathering on Christmas Day with our ever-changing family.

We were the same seven as last year, but a year filled with work, travel, new initiatives and a marriage has made us all fresh. I loved watching two daughters-in-law enter even more deeply into family life. As our youngest son nears 21, he and his brothers function as equals.

Even though the world around us is anything but peaceful, our island of calm gave me great hope.

Hope is more than a positive attitude. Hope sees the small glimmer and imagines a brightness. Hope sees a husband and wife exchange tender glances and has confidence in their dealing with challenges ahead. Hope notices the touch, the laughter, the instinct to help, and senses the sturdy goodness of these young people.

Hope is more than a stubborn determination not to give up. I have felt that determination, and it has seen me through a lot. But the hope I feel now – even in a world careening toward craziness and greed and injustice – arises out of things seen and sensed. God’s grace has been a palpable presence. People have said kind words and made generous sacrifices.

Both at home and outside, I sense a blossoming of goodness. Perhaps in reaction against the ugliness of our politics and the lurching of our inequitable economy, some people are turning their sights on the good.

We’ll see. Powerful forces want to drive us toward warfare and demagoguery. In this pregnant time between Christmas and a New Year, however, I sense that power has met its match.