The Christmas season is so often filled with busyness, lists, decorating and cooking, we sometimes forget what Christmas is about. I’m as much a victim of that as anyone else. A few years ago I visited Walt Disney World for Christmas for the first time. I had heard so many wonderful things about this event the hosted the “Candlelight Processional,” I made it a priority when planning my trip. Of course I did the Very Merry Christmas Party, saw the Osborne Lights, sang along to Christmas carols to fake snow and got my picture with Santa while I was wearing shorts. But the Candlelight Processional was the thing that really and truly brought Christmas home for me.
In the Candlelight Processional a celebrity (Edward James Olmos was my first) narrates the story of the birth Jesus, intermingled with a choir singing Christmas songs. The story reminds me of what Christmas was originally about, even if only for a little while. One of the last segments of the narration always hits home; because, no matter how commercialized Christmas has become, or if you don’t even celebrate Christmas, it still holds a life lesson we can all appreciate, but often forget. One Solitary Life:
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years, He was an itinerant preacher. He never had a family or owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never wrote a book or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.
While He was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had- His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever sailed, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of a man upon this earth as powerfully as this “One Solitary Life.“
We’re certainly not all the Prince of Peace, but each one of us has the opportunity to impact the lives of those around us, no matter where we are from, where we go, or how “important” we become. Which brings me to my second favorite thing during the holidays. Each year when I decorate my Christmas Tree, I watch It’s a Wonderful Life. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a sweet and touching movie about George Bailey who seems to have no luck. He’s stuck living in Bedford Falls running his father’s business and every time he’s about to leave to see the world something stops him. He slowly becomes tired of life, frustrated with the hand life has dealt him. On Christmas Eve when he’s about to be arrested for his Uncle’s mistake he becomes suicidal and wishes he had never been born.
His Guardian Angel, Clarence, comes to help him and shows him what would have happened if he had never been born. Instead of Bailey Savings and Loan building up Bedford Falls, Henry F. Potter is able to control Bedford Falls. Instead of a town with a strong community of people helping each other, Bedford Falls is a dark desolate town where there is no hope.
At the end when George finally realizes how important his life has been to the little town of Bedford Falls, he also learns he has friends, and all the same people that he supported in the past came and supported him in his time of need. And an Angel got his wings.
So this holiday season, I wish that each of you will have time to be with your family and friends and take a moment to remember that we’re each important to them. That we each have an opportunity to impact the lives of those around us. Just as we wish that others will have a positive impact on us, we have the power to do that in return, not matter how small the gesture is, it often means the world to the receiver.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or just a wonderful day.