The Holiday Season is upon us, and its time for all those great, old Christmas TV classics we love so well. Sentimental fool that I am, I love to curl up on the couch and watch at least a few of them each year. It doesn’t matter that I’ve seen some of them so often I can practically recite the lines. They can still bring a tear to my eye when they reach the inevitable, oh-so-predictable, happy-ending: the little girl gets her Miracle on 34th Street, Jimmy Stewart’s character decides he really does have a Wonderful Life, and old Ebenezer Scrooge realizes what a stingy old fool he’s been all his life and decides to straighten out his act.
As corny and trite as these movies all seem, the fact is that miracles do seem to happen at Christmas time. At this time of year, it’s almost as if a great blanket of kindness, generosity and cheer enfolds everyone and exorcises the Scrooge out of all of us.
At work and out on the streets, people are friendlier and more thoughtful. We hold more doors for those behind us. We extend a lot more “Good Morning”s! and “Have a nice day”s. Voices that previously were heard in conflict or confrontation are now heard joining together for songs of joy and hymns of praise for the season. We bake holiday cookies for each other and make sure that no one we work with has to spend the holidays alone.
Though we see our friends, families and loved ones throughout the year, most of us wait until the Christmas season to express our love to them in the form of gifts. We use the season to express our thanks to the paperboy, mailman, librarians and others who go neglected the remainder of the year. There are other friends that, although they hold a special place in our heart, we never contact at all except for the short message we include on our annual Christmas card.
Everywhere we turn, there are people helping out with charity drives: Buying toys for the underprivileged; Collecting food for the sharing centers and food kitchens; Donating money to favorite organizations.
Houses and complete neighborhoods are ablaze with lights and other displays of holiday finery. There are boat parades and free concerts and open houses and holiday parties to share the splendor of the season with family and make new friends.
Many of us skip church all year except at Christmas, although the sense of faith and peace and rejuvenation we get from that one visit may make us vow to start attending more regularly in the weeks to follow.
We are happier, friendlier, more generous during this season. We are the epitome of the Un-scrooged. We do not Bah! We do not Humbug! Much like those in our favorite Christmas stories, we have seen the truth about ourselves and we are living the Miracle, the Wonderful Life, the Christmas Carol! At least for a few weeks.
But then, the big day comes and goes. We have containers and containers of crumpled wrapping paper, ribbon and boxes, a dead tree to dispose of, and long lines at the stores to return unwanted items that would have been better to give than to receive. And our Christmas Spirit? What happened to our singing? What happened to our generous heart? What happened to the contact with friends and the return to our religion and all those other things that made the last few weeks such a joyous time? We box it away much like we do with our lights and ornaments. We stuff if back down inside ourselves and get back to the reality of our lives. We quit waving to our neighbors on the street. We suddenly turn our backs on the charities. We once again begin to suppress our feelings for our loved ones and lose touch with our distant friends and relatives. In a few weeks, the magic of the season is gone, and we are right back to being Scrooged.
We wonder why so many people get depressed at Christmas time. Anybody who watched the whole thing from the viewpoint of a spectator, much like we watch it on our favorite old movies, would be able to see the sadness in the whole thing. The sadness of the truth that we all know how to be kind, loving, generous, happy, singing human beings…..and that we choose to do it only once a year.
Every year, every season that we share that joy and love with our families, and feel that faith of our religion, and feel the great warmth that we get from expressing the generosity and love in our hearts, may be just a reminder to us all that we really do have it in us. It is our own little wake-up call to appreciate those we love, to appreciate our life, to be something other than a close-hearted old Scrooge.
None of us knows what happens the NEXT day in the great old movie classics, but we turn off the set with a warm feeling that they are all going to live happily ever after. We have faith that the miracle has occurred and the insight that these people have found will stay with them. That they will change the way they live their life.
I know that real life is a little tougher than the fantasies portrayed in the movies. But, sentimental fool that I am, I like to think that maybe just a few more people will try to extend their holiday moods for just a little longer each year, and be a little more generous and a little less Scrooge-like for the rest of their lives, without needing a visit from a bunch of ghosts to scare them into it. I know it may be a stretch to expect miracles, but like the beautiful photo on this post says. I figured “It Can’t Hurt to Ask!”
Sentimental fool that I am, I DO believe in Miracles. After all, a Miracle is what the first Christmas was really all about.
**The image I used for this post is one of my favorite Christmas cards and I have had it for many years. It was created by the wonderful artist, Mary Engelbreit. Visit her website to see what cards she is offering this year or to buy some last minute Christmas gifts for friends and family.