There's some serious Christmas non-cheer scattered around this year and it's annoying to those of us who are trying to enjoy this season. It's like we're all searching for some kind of magic or miracle when it's right there under our noses. The story of this season, whether you believe it literally or not, is actually packed with miracles and magic.
Think about it. There's this young woman who's getting ready to be married when the God she worships lets her know that she's going to bear his son. Understandably, she's surprised. But she's believed in him all her life and whatever he says, she'll do. So she explains this to her betrothed. Understandably, he has a hard time accepting her story. But when an angel visits him to let him know that her story is true, he believes and becomes her solid rock of support. Which is why, when they're called to another town to pay taxes (surely that part is believable), he finds a donkey, hoists her on it, and they head out.
They make it to the town, but since everyone else got there first (donkeys are slow), there's no place left for this young couple to stay. And she's ready to deliver at any moment. So they settle for a stable, which barely beats having a baby by the side of the road or out in a field. And so there they are, a new mother, a stepfather and a tiny baby boy, quietly hidden in a stable.
But they don't stay quietly hidden for long because angels show up again, telling shepherds in nearby fields that they should go see this boy. Which they do. The story also includes three wise men who were on the trail before the boy was ever born because they've been studying the books and know he's coming. So they take off on camels, with servants, and one night they look up and see this new star (this story just gets better and better), and so they know he's been born, which must have been pretty rewarding to them. They follow the star and find the boy.
So there you have it. Angels, wise men, shepherds, a star, and a new baby boy.
When you look at it that way, the magic of a man in a red suit riding in a reindeer-pulled sleigh delivering gifts worldwide in one night pales in comparison.
Either story is magical enough to kindle a person's faith in some kind of Christmas spirit -- if we let it.
In their innocent way, kids understand this season's magic. They could care less about sagging economies or political nonsense. All they know is they can talk to the guy in the red suit about what kind of kid they've been this year, and if they pass his test, then the gift they whisper to him will appear under their Christmas tree. Half the reason it's there is because they believe it will be.
Grown-ups can learn from kids how to do that, how to speak to the one we believe in, tell him our hopes, our dreams, our wishes, and then believe strongly enough that the answer isn't just hoped for -- it's expected.
And we don't have to wait for miracles to happen. We can make our own. Help a friend, help a stranger, be content with less, count to 10 when we want to explode, fight despair with a pasted-on smile that eventually becomes natural, patiently rejuvenate a sagging relationship, find joy in non-material things, forgive an enemy.
Perhaps the best miracle is realizing that, with the right spirit, we can actually make miracles happen.
This is the season for it.
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