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The Magic of Christmas

I saw this image as I scrolled Facebook the other day. It was accompanied by a caption praising mothers for how wonderful they are and how much they do. To be sure, the post was intended to give mothers a great big pat on the back. But to me, it felt like pressure. And at the same time? I want it to be true. At this time of the year, we all want to believe in magic. And maybe to convince everyone, including ourselves, that we can BE the magic.

For children, magic and wonder are as real as snowflakes and twinkle lights. It’s easier - and certainly more fun - to imagine Santa bringing gifts down a chimney than to picture our parents doing all the work. Nothing seems impossible. When my daughter was three we built a snowman together on Christmas Eve. We had watched Frosty the Snowman a few times and so when we placed a hat upon his head, she fully expected him to come to life. The anticipation, the wonder, the laugh out loud joy of every part of the Christmas season is tangible for children.

As adults, we remember the wonder almost wistfully. We want to recapture it. For our children. For ourselves. We do everything we can to make the season magical. Beautiful decorations, special events and activities, music, movies, and expensive gifts, all are intended to get us into the proper Christmas mood.

But none of us is actually magic. And the magic we attempt to manufacture often leaves us exhausted, exasperated and empty.

Many of us know there is more to celebrate than a fat man in a red suit. “Jesus is the true reason for the season,” Christians tell one another. And so we try to incorporate the story of the first Christmas into our holiday observations. But it often feels out of place, like a construction paper garland on a department store tree. That time is so far removed from ours, and can seem dull and ordinary. Not the least bit magical, wondrous or well, sparkly.

But when I look past the surface of that long ago time in Bethlehem, I find a surprising amount of sparkle. There are more than a few extraordinary - dare I say magical - moments to be found in the ordinary world where Jesus was born. Forget the Partridge in the Pear Tree. Our Truest Love gave us …

• Six Angelic Announcements

• Four Dramatic Dreams with Divine Directives

• Six Miracles Of Major Magnitude

• Two Rare Road Trips to Remote Destinations

• One Stunning Celestial Sign

• Two Radical Reversals

• Four Prophesies Proclaimed

• Two Spontaneous Songs of Joyful Praise

• One Incredible God Incarnated as an Infant

How could we ever hope to match the extravagance, wonder, or abundance from that very first Christmas? Maybe it is our senses that are dull and not the story itself?

Imagine young Mary going about her ordinary day and suddenly there stands before her an angel. An actual Being from the spirit-realm manifested in human form right in front of her! Did he sparkle? Was the atmosphere sizzling with ethereal electricity? To say nothing of the message he delivered to her! Amazing. Incredible. Wondrous. And don’t stop there. Place yourself in the shoes of Zechariah, Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Magi from the Far East. Every single person who interacted with God’s messengers walked away changed. None of them - not even the magi - imagined themselves to be the source of any of the Christmas magic.

So why do we? Has the whole Christmas holiday season just gotten wildly out of hand? Possibly. Okay, probably. But also? Maybe our hearts are in the right place. I think of what C.S. Lewis said in his book, Mere Christianity:

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

Made for another world. Where all that glitters is better than gold. Where that feeling of joy and wonder isn’t laced with even the slightest sadness or regret. Where we don’t feel the least pressure to be magic because we know the One who literally spoke the world into being.

Somewhere deep in our souls, we recognize this really is the most wonderful time of the year. And we want to proclaim it along with the angels. We want to throw parties and light up the darkness and give good gifts to one another. Of course we do. We are made in the image of the One who invented Christmas. So perhaps instead of “being” magic, we could take a page from the young mother of our newborn king. “Mary treasured up all these things,” Luke tells us, “and pondered them in her heart.”

Treasured. Holding each beautiful multi-faceted sparkly moment close. Whispering words of gratitude to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. And maybe then, instead of a frantic frazzled holiday, we might rediscover some of the joy and wonder and yes, peace, of the Christmas season. And that? Would be truly magical.

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