In December of every year, our house is converted to a Christmas cinema. We spend most evenings curled up in the living room in the glow of the tree watching every Christmas movie we can come up with. There are the animated classics: Rudolph, Frosty, Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Charlie Brown Christmas. Then we have the adult selections: Die Hard (yes, really), The Ref, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Scrooged, The Family Man. And finally, the full family flicks: The Muppet Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, and, of course, my favorite: It’s a Wonderful Life.
I love that movie. Perhaps it’s because I have a thing for the Forties. Perhaps it’s because Mary had four children in five minutes, and I can totally relate. Whatever it is, I could watch George Bailey stumble desperately through the snow a hundred times and not grow tired of it.
Even so, this year was different. Every time George’s dreams were dashed I felt it in my gut. When he stood awkwardly at his old best friend’s shoulder and compared his miserable state of affairs to his friend’s oversized success, I felt my face grow warm with shame. I was rooting for George to throw that broken banister ornament right through the front windows. I was IN that movie. And at the end, when everyone in town shows up in George and Mary’s living room emptying their piggy banks to save the day, I burst into tears. Because that’s the story of our Christmas.
If you had told me in September, when Mike lost his job, that he’d still be looking for a position on Christmas Eve, I would’ve jumped off that bridge right along side George Bailey. I suppose it’s a blessing that we can’t see what the future holds.
I would’ve made myself crazy worrying about how we would eat, how we’d pay our mortgage, how we’d keep the lights on. Contemplating how we’d ever manage a tree or anything to go under it would’ve sent me over the edge.
And yet, here I sit with a full belly, in a house that is miraculously paid up at least through next week. I’m basking in the glow of a decorated tree that’s sheltering a respectable pile of gifts. My little girls are pouring over Santa Tracker on an iPad, and I’m not the least bit worried that Santa will miss our house.
Tonight we will have our annual spaghetti cook off and then we’ll pack off to church for a candlelight bluegrass service. We’ll sing songs and listen to stories about miracles: a virgin birth, a guiding star, angels delivering messages to poor shepherds. And I won’t even be wondering if the stories are true. I won’t be struggling to believe that the impossible can happen, because it already has.
We’ve survived. Thanks to people who support this blog (more about that here) and friends and church members and anonymous strangers and no-longer-anonymous strangers, we are not only not starving, but we are filled to the brim with love and hope and gratitude.
We still have a long way to go. But the Christmas miracle is this: we have hope. We believe that there is a chance we will make it. Call it faith, if you will. And it didn’t come from some Sam Wainwright (George Bailey’s millionaire friend: “Yee-Haw!”) but from a town full, a country full, really, of friends and strangers showing up with gifts and cards and hugs and food and opportunities.
Today may only be Christmas Eve, but Christmas has already arrived at our house and everywhere we look we see guardian angels. Thank you.