Tag Archives: Christmas

Hallowed

Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes

Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,

The bird of dawning singeth all night long;

And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,

The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,

No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,

So hallowed and so gracious is the time.

(I, ii, 157)

SO HALLOWED AND so gracious is the time — these lines from the first scene of Hamlet in a sense say it all. We tend to think of time as progression, as moment following moment, day following day, in relentless flow, the kind of time a clock or calendar can measure. But we experience time also as depth, as having quality as well as quantity — a good time, a dangerous time, an auspicious time, a time we mark not by its duration but by its content. . . .

At Christmas time it is hard even for the unbeliever not to believe in something if not in everything. Peace on earth, good will to men; a dream of innocence that is good to hold on to even if it is only a dream; the mystery of being a child; the possibility of hope-not even the canned carols piped out over the shopping center parking plaza from Thanksgiving on can drown it out entirely.

For a moment or two, the darkness of disenchantment, cynicism, doubt, draw back at least a little, and all the usual worldly witcheries lose something of their power to charm. Maybe we cannot manage to believe with all our hearts. But as long as the moments last, we can believe that this is of all things the thing most worth believing. And that may not be as far as it sounds from what belief is. For as long as the moment lasts, that hallowed, gracious time.

-Frederick Buechner, The Faces of Jesus

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Unbearable Light in Unthinkable Darkness

Christmas itself is by grace. It could never have survived our own blindness and depredations otherwise. It could never have happened otherwise.

nativity

Perhaps it is the very wildness and strangeness of the grace that has led us to try to tame it. We have tried to make it habitable. We have roofed it and furnished it. We have reduced it to an occasion we feel at home with, at best a touching and beautiful occasion, at worst a trite and cloying one.

But if the Christmas event in itself is indeed—as a matter of cold, hard fact—all its cracked up to be, then even at best our efforts are misleading.

The Word became flesh. Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush one-handed. Incarnation. It is not tame. It is not beautiful. It is uninhabitable terror. It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light. Agonized laboring led to it, vast upheavals of intergalactic space, time split apart, a wrenching and tearing of the very sinews of reality itself. You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God… who for us and for our salvation,” as the Nicene Creed puts it, “came down from heaven.”

Came down. Only then do we dare uncover our eyes and see what we can see. It is the Resurrection and the Life she holds in her arms. It is the bitterness of death he takes at her breast.

By Frederick Buechner from Whistling in the Dark

How We Make a Life

Christmas DollBy John London

I hurried into the local department store to grab some last-minute Christmas gifts. I looked at all the people and grumbled to myself. I would be in here forever and I just had so much to do. Christmas was beginning to become such a drag. I kinda wished that I could just sleep through Christmas. But I hurried the best I could through all the people to the toy department. Once again I mumbled to myself at the prices of all these toys and wondered if the grandkids would even play with them.

I found myself in the doll aisle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy about five holding a lovely doll. He kept touching her hair and he held her so gently. I could not seem to help myself. I just kept looking over at the little boy and wondered who the doll was for. I watched him turn to a woman he called his aunt and say, “Are you sure I don’t have enough money?” She replied a bit impatiently, “You know that you don’t have enough money for it.” The aunt told the little boy not to go anywhere; that she had to go get some other things and would be back in a few minutes. And then she left the aisle. The boy continued to hold the doll.

After a bit I asked the boy who the doll was for. He said, “It is the doll my sister wanted so badly for Christmas. She just knew that Santa would bring it.” I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it. He said “No, Santa can’t go where my sister is … I have to give the doll to my momma to take to her.” I asked him where his sister was.

He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, “She has gone to be with Jesus. My daddy says that Momma is going to have to go be with her.” My heart nearly stopped beating. Then the boy looked at me again and said, “I told Daddy to tell Momma not to go yet. I told him to tell her to wait till I got back from the store.” Then he asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would love to. He pulled out some pictures he’d had taken at the front of the store. He said, “I want my momma to take this with her so she won’t ever forget me. I love my momma so very much and I wish she didn’t have to leave me, but Daddy says she will need to be with my sister.”

I saw that the little boy had lowered his head and had grown so very quiet. While he was not looking, I reached into my purse and pulled out a handful of bills. I asked the little boy, “Shall we count that money one more time?” He grew excited and said, “Yes, I just know it has to be enough.” So I slipped my money in with his and we began to count it.

Of course, it was plenty for the doll. He softly said, “Thank You Jesus for giving me enough money.” Then the boy said, “I just asked Jesus to give me enough money to buy this doll so Momma can take it with her to give to my sister, and He heard my prayer. I wanted to ask Him for enough to buy my momma a white rose, but I didn’t ask Him; but He’s given me enough to buy the doll and a rose for Momma! She loves white roses so very, very much.”

In a few minutes the aunt came back and I wheeled my cart away. I could not keep from thinking about the little boy as I finished my shopping in a totally different spirit than when I had started. I kept remembering a story I had seen in the newspaper several days earlier about a drunk driver hitting a car and killing a little girl and the mother was in serious condition. The family was deciding on whether to remove the life support. Surely this little boy did not belong with that story.

Two days later I read in the paper that the family had disconnected the life support and the young woman had died. I couldn’t forget the little boy and just kept wondering if the two were somehow connected. Later that day, I couldn’t help myself, I went out and bought some white roses and took them to the funeral home where the young woman was. There she was, holding a lovely white rose, the beautiful doll, and the picture of the little boy in the store.

I left there in tears, my life changed forever. The love that little boy had for his little sister and his mother was overwhelming. “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

Retrieved from “A Touching Christmas Story