What I remember most about my childhood Christmases is waiting up to hear the animals talk. According to the story my mother told me, barnyard creatures performed this miracle every Christmas at midnight in remembrance of Christ’s birth in a manger.
Seeing a fat, bearded man in a red suit couldn’t compare with the prospects of catching the family pets addressing one another in plain English. I desperately wanted to witness the phenomenon. But my faith waned. By the time I was a teenager, I had quit sneaking out on icy winter nights in late December to spy on our dog, cat and ponies.
In my adult life, the magic of the holidays gave way to materialism. Yet while scanning the advertising circulars recently, I couldn’t help but wonder whether my and my family’s fascination with electronic talking toys and mythical video game characters stemmed from some ongoing subconscious search for the supernatural.
So I started looking again, deliberately.
I found a miracle this December in a pale red tomato growing in a five-gallon bucket in our dining room.
Another one came in an explosion of feathers as a flock of starlings blackened the winter sky moments before I got a call about an ailing friend’s death.
Then there was the surprise snowfall one Christmas, 10 or 12 years ago. My father had fallen seriously ill. I awoke to the muffled laughter of my husband and children playing outside. When I looked out the window, I saw the wings of three snow angels spread across our yard.
The magic of the holidays is all around us. You won’t find it in the finest retail store or the prettiest box under the tree.
Regardless of what we believe – or don’t believe — about the origin of Christmas, I believe we could all benefit from learning to recognize a miracle when it happens.
For proof of the supernatural, keep looking to the natural world.
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