I often wonder why we put up with this time of year.
Not the holidays themselves, but all the clutter around them: the stress, retail crowds, social obligations, four-month-long Christmas displays, heart-tugging songs in public venues and pressure on the pocketbook.
And then, when I’m feeling my very Grinchiest, I’m reminded that the season is all about magic and miracles.
For those who remember and believe in the holiday’s religious beginnings, what could be more miraculous than a virgin giving birth to a major game-changer, in a stable full of stinky animals?
Sure, most kids focus on the presents they hope to find under the tree – and tv ads provide them with plenty of “must have” ideas. However, I think it’s the potential for magic that most captivates children.
Holiday rituals fill kids’ hearts and souls: waiting in line to see Santa’s stand-in, driving around town to gawk at holiday light displays, feeling joy during church pageants, watching “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” and “Elf” on tv, enjoying family time with hot cocoa and cookies and waiting for the season’s first snowfall.
For most of us, the best holiday memories revolve around family time and experiences, not the yearned-for gifts that appeared on Christmas morning.
We all want to experience magic and miracles this time of year.
I happen to know a real magician – not just the kind who performs card tricks at kids’ birthday parties (although he probably boosted his income that way at the start).
Mark is quite accomplished (check out his website here) and, for many years, lived well by performing tricks at corporate gatherings. Yes, even adults want to believe in magic.
He stopped by my house a few years back, and performed a few tricks for five 15-year-old boys. You could almost see their jaws bouncing off the floor as even the most jaded teenager started to believe.
When seemingly rational, negative thoughts cloud my otherwise positive attitude, I look for magic and miracles.
The morning that my father passed away, when I was a graduate student in Manhattan, I woke up to a beautiful flurry of white flakes. Even though I felt as if my heart had been ripped from my body, I found solace in the snow, and started to believe that life would eventually feel better.
During the following decade in New York City, snowfalls always calmed me and reminded me to believe in endless possibilities. Snow provides a blanket of quiet, beauty and hope in an otherwise over-stressed environment.
Many years ago, my husband suffered from a mysterious, traumatic illness. Doctors claimed they couldn’t cure him, they could only “support” him through the ordeal. One evening, a nurse called and asked me to rush to the hospital, as Rich was in crisis. As I drove westward across Lake Washington, I spotted a beautiful rainbow. And at that moment, I felt peace, believing it was a sign that Rich would survive.
Later that night, one of my closest friends–who was living nearly 200 miles away–left me a voicemail: “I saw a rainbow this evening, and know it means that Rich will be okay.”
He did survive, against all odds, and is living a full and normal life today.
My oldest brother wasn’t so lucky; he succumbed to lung cancer a decade ago, on Christmas day. Of course, I think of Rick’s death every Christmas morning, but I like to believe that he is somehow present in the lights and the music and the angel that tops my tree.
When a young family member struggled with a rare and very serious disease several years back, I always smiled when I saw a beautiful sunrise out my bedroom window, or a rainbow in the evening light. On one particularly challenging day for her, a double rainbow appeared, and I took it as a positive sign. She is thriving in college today.
My very wise mother-in-law recently said to me, “It’s important to push out the fear to make room for hope.” I guess snow and rainbows and sunrises help dissipate my fears and negative thoughts, and give my heart room for more positivity.
I want to believe that magic and miracles are possible. I know that around the globe, others are enjoying this holiday season for the same reason.
– Linda Williams Rorem, 15 Dec. 2013
To subscribe, please email PermissionSlips1@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter @PermissionSlips
And please “like” our Facebook page