The yin and the yang of the holidays: Rion Holcombe and Steve Whitcomb

The holidays are supposed to be a blissful time for family and gatherings and, more often then not, they are. But for all the positives, periodically there are some negatives during this time of year as well. People lose loved ones. Tragedies happen. There are three stories that emerged this holiday season in mainstream news circles that kind of underscore the yin and the yang of this time of year.

First, there’s Laney Brown. She was an eight year-old girl in PA with leukemia and recently passed away. But before she did, she was part of a viral sensation where thousands of carolers showed up to her house — it was one of her two dying wishes. (The other was to talk to PA native Taylor Swift, and they video-chatted before she died as well.) This is one of the greatest things you may ever see:

That story has a good part — the 10,000 carolers — and a bad part — the untimely death. Some stories only have a bad part, like Steve Whitcomb, a volunteer firefighter in New Hampshire who responded to a car accident, pulled a dying woman from the car, and … realized it was his daughter. The human brain and spirit almost can’t process what it must be like to go through something like that.

This, from the Boston Globe, is a lot to take in:

Katie’s husband, Liam Hamilton, woke their girls early Christmas morning. Christmas still had to be Christmas.

“I tried to make it normal,” he said.

But the littlest, just 2 years old, was confused. Where is Mommy? she asked. The 4-year-old answered before he could. “Mommy died,” the older girl said. Again, the toddler baby asked for her mommy. The 9-year-old wept.

When that’s too much, though, there’s the story of Rion Holcombe.

He has Downs Syndrome, but he’s headed to Clemson! He’s being called “a pioneer” by some. Regardless, the reaction in that video is one of a kind.

The point is, just like at any time of year, good things, bad things, and mostly indifferent things happen around Christmas. “Good tidings we bring…” doesn’t mean it’s immune from the bad. There is a yin and a yang to even the most joyous of time periods. And when it goes badly, you do what Steve Whitcomb told The Nashua Telegraph: “You grieve and then you try to put it all back together.” (And you watch the Rion and caroling videos to remind yourself that, in the face of it all, there is still so much good in this world.)

Ted Bauer