I love the old movies about Christmas. You know the ones that make you feel all soft inside – cause you tear up or strike a familiar nerve. Movies like, “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “White Christmas.” These movies are packed with family values, love for one another, charity, peace on earth and all the good things associated with Christmas. The strand that ties them all together is that life isn’t always perfect. Life for most people has its glitches and roadblocks.
To find the true miracles, we often have to dig deeper than the gifts of “The Christmas Story.” Ralphie’s dream of getting a Red Ryder B.B. gun, in spite of his mother’s objections, simply doesn’t result in the perfect, happy ending.
I think the true miracles of Christmas can be found in the simplest of things. Memories of those simple things are alive in my brain, more than any of the gifts I’ve ever received. I couldn’t tell you one special gift I asked for and got for Christmas, but I do remember the old scraggly tree we got at the last minutes in order to save money.
I recall my dad spending lots of extra hours working, so we could have special clothes to wear. I remember my mom spending hours curling my sister’s and my hair with rags. I think about the Christmases where homemade ornaments, knit scarves, mittens and doll clothes were all we had to give or receive. The smiles at receiving whatever was given always outweighed the gift itself. The time spent together is a miracle in itself.
When Christmas caroling one year, the little choir we were a part of was visiting an elderly man of ninety something. He didn’t answer his door, but peeked through the window as he heard the joyous voices. Almost like a little child, he pressed his nose against the pane and a small smile curled the edges of his mouth. He looked down to open the window slightly, so he could hear better. When his face reappeared, small tears had formed in the corners of his eyes. I considered that a wonderful miracle.
Sometimes we have to search hard for miracles. Maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one this year. Perhaps you just lost your job and your debts far outweigh your assets. You might be struggling with addiction and feel there is no way out for you. There are many who are homeless, living under bridges with no warm blankets or clothes to push out the winter’s cold. How can there be even the tiniest miracle in any of that?
The most unlikely place for the King of Creation to make His human appearance, was in a lowly stable. Everything about that first Nativity of our Lord, was inconceivable – a virgin birth – born in Bethlehem as foretold by the prophets – true man yet true God- born to deliver the entire world from the chains of sin, guilt and death. None of it made sense, but these miraculous events were tucked away in Mary’s heart and undoubtedly remembered as they occurred.
There are times when we have to search hard for a miracle, but they do exist. I love those old movies, but I think Linus expressed it best. In “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” these were the words he recited:
“And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.” Luke 2:8-14