If You Just Believe..............

Thursday, December 24, 2015
The Christmas season is  jam packed.  It's packed with activities, shopping, decorating, wrapping, meal planning, socializing.  Everywhere we go, the halls are decked with lights and tinsel and shiny balls..... all the things that visually remind us of the holiday season.  Christmas music has been playing on the radio and in stores since before Thanksgiving.  We frantically shop for the perfect gifts for everyone on our list, hoping to keep the spending within reasonable limits, or at least within our budgets.  Our calendars become a road map of social commitments as we try to see as many family and friends as possible in just a few short weeks.  No matter how consistently Christmas arrives each year at the same time, year after year, somehow we seem to be caught off guard with having to be ready in time.  By the time Christmas arrives, we are frazzled, short on cash, disheartened with the inability to find that 'perfect present' and exhausted.  It's a shame really, but what I think is the saddest part is that in our quest to make "the perfect holiday" we miss out on really enjoying and experiencing what should be the happiest of seasons.  I believe that in all this hectic chaos, we lose the magic, we lose our sense of wonder, we turn a season of joy and wonder into a season of commercial chaos lacking everything Christmas is meant to be.

I think this process begins to take place right about the time we stop believing.  It is at that moment that we lose the magic and Christmas becomes just another holiday.  I remember when our oldest daughter reached that point.  She was about ten.  Katie was a believer - in everything.  She clung to the magic of Christmas for as long as she possibly could, despite her truthful friends.  She knew how important that magic was.  Our youngest daughter figured it out much sooner and then it seemed, the magic was gone for all of us for a time.  But we humans want to believe, not just in Santa, but in mankind.  We need things to believe in.  Heck, just look at Joel Osteen's congregation!  His positive message beckons thousands every week who want to believe in something bigger than themselves.  In this time of world unrest and mass shootings, poverty and homelessness, we all need something to believe in.  Yet, it is because of these things that we have all become so cynical, so hardened, so unbelieving.  Life can get pretty depressing, especially on the nightly news.  It's no wonder Christmas has lost its magic and its meaning.  It has become such a commercial holiday leaving us all just a little overwhelmed and unimpressed.

Tonight I was watching my favorite Christmas movie, The Polar Express, based on the 1985 award-winning children's book by Chris Van Allsburg.  In case you are one of the few who might be unfamiliar with its story, it is about a little boy who has reached the point of not believing.  He hears his parents say it will be sad if his days of believing were over. "It would be the end of the magic".  Naturally the little boy doesn't want the magic to end, so when a steam train arrives in front of his house and the conductor invites him aboard to come along to the North Pole, the little boy hesitantly climbs aboard.  Once in the North Pole, the boy (who is never actually named in the book or movie) meets Santa and is chosen to receive the First Gift of Christmas.  I don't want to spoil the ending, but after a tragic turn of events, Santa saves the day and the little boy's belief in Santa is restored.  It sounds like a predictable story, but it is magical, beautifully done in computer animation and may be one of the most heartwarming and magical Christmas movies ever made.  As juvenile as it may sound, the Polar Express is not just about believing in Santa.  It reminds us that we have everything we need if we just believe.  Josh Groban wrote, Believe, a beautiful song for the movie.  Take a moment to listen click the link and listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDoRPbsfJE0     Here are some of the lyrics:

by Josh Groban

Children, sleeping.
Snow is softly falling.
Dreams are calling,
Like bells in the distance.
We were dreamers,
Not so long ago.
But one by one, we
All had to grow up.

When it seems the magic slipped away...
We find it all again on Christmas Day.

Believe in what your heart is saying,
Hear the melody that's playing.
There's no time to waste,
There so much to celebrate.
Believe in what you feel inside,
Give your dreams the wings to fly.
You have everything you need, if you just believe.

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/

I think that little boy in the movie was not named because that little boy represented all of us.  I think what we all need is a little Christmas magic.  I think we all want to believe.  We need to believe.  Maybe not in Santa exactly, but we need to think like kids again and think about Christmas from the heart of a child.  We need to look at the season with eyes of wonder - at the joy of giving, the magic in our children and grandchildren's faces, in the pure and genuine gift of love that used to be behind each and every gift we gave.  We need to give with that sincerity again - not as a frustrated chore of finding a perfect gift, but as a heartfelt expression of our care for the person who receives that gift.  Santa may not be a real man in a red suit, but he is an expression of the magic of the holiday.  He represents the magic we all need to feel during these hard times.  He represents the love and compassion we need to have for our neighbors, our family, our friends and even our enemies.  He represents the joy, the love and the sense of wonder we should be feeling during this season, rather than the negativity that can sometimes overtake us in the quest to provide the "perfect holiday".  Like the little boy in the Polar Express, we need to Believe! 
 So this season, whether your kids are too old to believe in Santa, whether someone you love is missing from the holiday, or whether finances have prevented you from purchasing the special gift you wanted to give, try to go back to those magical times and think about Christmas with the heart of a child.  Think about the true meaning of the season - the birth of a child - and the miracle of that birth.  And when you stop and remember that, remember to BELIEVE.  And just maybe, the magic will return.

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