There are many great stories about Christmas miracles. One of the most celebrated is the story of Scrooge in Dicken’s Christmas Carol. I also think of George Bailey’s miracle in It’s A Wonderful Life.
We tend to think of Christmas Miracles as huge, life changing events. These miracles are phenomena that awaken us, stir us to make big changes in our lives, cause us to realize that we can be the hero of our own story.
All this is inspiring, but I want to advocate for a practice of looking for small miracles. Maybe we don’t call them miracles; maybe we just acknowledge them as blessings, but they are worth noting for the feelings of gratitude they elicit.
Here are three Christmas miracles that I’m grateful for. I hope my memories will inspire you to acknowledge your own miracles during this holiday season.
#1: These Don’t Taste Like Christmas Cookies
I found the perfect set of cookie cutters for our holiday baking. The Twelve Days of Christmas. My favorite was the partridge in a pear tree. These would be perfect for our Christmas tradition of making cookie ornaments for our tree. I already had the perfect Santa, and the most beautiful Christmas tree.
I didn’t make sugar cookies from these. I made a dough from flour, salt and water. My kids and I cut out the cookie ornaments, baked them and painted them with acrylic paints. It was a tradition that I loved.
My son was four when he got to paint for the first time. Zachary painted his cookies like any four-year-old would – pretty hastily and quite messy. He was proud of his work, but intrigued by the beauty and care his older sister put into creating her ornaments.
They were all dry and ready to hang when Zach took a big bite out of Dania’s perfect Santa. They looked like cookies, after all, and Zach just couldn’t accept that they wouldn’t taste good. Flour, salt & water – yuk! He spit out the piece and felt bad for ruining his sister’s ornament. She was pretty pissed. He was defensive. Without meaning to, Zach had kind of ruined our party.
We hung the ornaments after they dried, and I tucked Santa away. Everyone thought I had thrown it out, but I decided to save it and see if I could somehow make repair. With a little help from some superglue, I was able to put Santa back together so well that the bite was almost undetectable. I saved it to hang on Christmas Eve. I placed it front and center on our tree after the kids had gone to bed.
The next morning everyone rushed out of bed to see if Santa had eaten the cookies that we left for him, and to discover their presents. But the first thing they saw was my daughter’s Santa ornament hanging on the tree. The Real Santa had magically repaired the ornament and hung it, to be admired. Oh Santa, thank you. It was, indeed, a very merry Christmas that year. My kids got a Christmas miracle of their very own.
#2: The Christmas Lizard
The whole family went to pick out our Christmas tree that year. There were six of us. We were The Brady Bunch. My husband and I each brought two kids to our marriage and created a blended family. We didn’t get the whole crew every Christmas – you know that this-is-my-year-then-it’s-your-year thing that families of divorce go through. But this year we were all together.
We brought the tree home and placed it in the corner, next to the fireplace. It was a tall one, almost too tall for the ceiling. We decorated it and sat back to admire what we had created.
Our cat, Lovey, was particularly interested in the tree that year. She wasn’t engaged in all her usual miscreant behaviors like swatting the bulbs off the tree, getting herself tangled in the lights, climbing the tree. No. All she wanted to do was sit on the mantle of the fireplace and stare at the tree. She seemed absolutely mesmerized.
One night, Lovey began to emit that sound a cat makes when they’re hunting. That strange staccato growl that announces to the prey that they had better get ready to meet their maker.
We followed the trajectory of Lovey’s gaze and saw what she had been staring at – The Christmas Lizard. He was perched on one of the high branches of the tree. Fat and long, stretched out on the branch. He was fully enjoying the radiant heat that was emitted from the recessed lighting.
It was a miracle! We had a lizard in our Christmas tree. We decided that it was a miracle for Lovey, our indoor-only cat. She had a new level of excitement in her life. And it was a miracle that this heat loving lizard crawled into a Christmas tree and got to enjoy the warmth of our home for a few weeks.
After Christmas, we dismantled the tree and took it out to the curb. Our Christmas Lizard was free again to live his life outside, and to one day tell his miracle story to his own kids.
#3: All I want For Christmas is My Nose
My daughter was on summer break, visiting her dad. She was 13, at that tender age when puberty steals a young girl and coaxes her to take her first steps into womanhood. It’s a time when feeling pretty and worthy and popular is of utmost importance.
My daughter loved horses. Lucky for her my ex-husband had a quarter horse who had just given birth to a foal. Mom and baby awaited my daughter’s summer visit.
Hot summer days were spent riding, grooming, feeding, tending to the stalls. She was in heaven. After one morning’s ride, as she was brushing down her horse, the little foal nipped mom’s teat. Her sudden reaction was to bite the only thing within her immediate reach – my daughter’s face. Asis bit off half of my daughter’s nose!
I could tell you all the details of the next six months, how this precious little girl put a band-aid over her nose, every single day, to cover the hole in her face. I could tell you about how she never complained when the doctors told her she’d have to wait six months for her surgery. I could show you her school picture from that year and how she smiled beautifully into the camera in spite of the band-aid on her face. She was so brave, so graceful, and so patient. I had never been more proud of her.
We had to wait until Christmas break for her to have the surgery that would remove a small part of her upper ear, where cartilage lived, and graft it to her nose. We had to wait to see if it would look at all like a normal nose.
Though it was a few days after, it felt like Christmas morning when they removed her bandage and she looked in the mirror to see her normal, beautiful nose. There was a small, hairline scar that would become faint with time. There was half of a large freckle at the scar line, because Asis had bitten the other half off. But my daughter had her nose again. No more band-aids. No more need to be brave or patient. We had our Christmas miracle.