old house has seen better days. The siding is dented, the walkway is
cracked, the yard is muddy and tracked with Copper's paw prints. Inside
is one of the fullest and most aromatic trees we've ever chopped down.
Cards line the mantel, the fridge is so full it takes ten minutes to
find the cream cheese. Which is to say we are as ready as we will ever
be. The family is gathering. I need to make one more trip to the grocery
This morning I thought about a scene from one of my
favorite Christmas movies, one I hope we'll have time to watch in the
next few days. In "It's a Wonderful Life," Jimmy Stewart has just
learned he faces bank fraud and prison, and as he comes home beside
himself with worry, he grabs the knob of the bannister in his
old house — and it comes off in his hand. He is exasperated at this; it seems to represent his failures and shortcomings.
the end of the movie, after he's been visited by an angel, after his
family and friends have rallied around him in an unprecedented way,
after he's had a chance to see what the world would have been like
without him — he grabs the bannister knob again. And once again, it
comes off in his hand. But this time, he kisses it. The house is still
cold and drafty and in need of repair. But it has been sanctified by
friendship and love and solidarity.
Christmas doesn't take away
our problems. But it counters them with joy. It reminds us to appreciate
the humble, familiar things that surround us every day, and to draw
strength from the people we love. And surely there is a bit of the
miraculous in that.
Photo: Flow TV
This is a re-post from December 24, 2011. Merry Christmas!