Charles Dickens begins his classic tale, A Christmas Carol, on Christmas Eve. It is a day marked by “cold, bleak, biting weather” and Scrooge can hear the people outside his office window “beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them.”
It was a day, in other words, not unlike May 21, 2016.
We were in Charlottesville then, celebrating Virginia’s U.Va. graduation. Rarely have I been so happy to have my parka and my hat. And my boots, which I bet I could have sold for a few hundred bucks (and which I did, in fact, loan to another mother whose daughter’s ceremony was after ours).
Like every other family I guess, we took the requisite Rotunda Photo that day. I couldn’t have predicted it back then (if I had, I would have at least ditched the ball cap), but it turned out to be our Christmas card pic:
Which is fitting, actually. Not because it might as well have been snowing on Jefferson’s Lawn (and I promise you, I think I really did feel some sleet), but because of the joy – and the warmth – that Christmas always brings.
In the Dickens story, the thaw happens the moment that Scrooge’s nephew walks in. We hear him before we see him: “A merry Christmas, Uncle! God save you!”
When the nephew enters Scrooge’s office, he is “all in a glow.” He has a ruddy face, sparkling eyes, and breath you can see, like smoke. Eavesdropping as the young man catalogs the virtues of Christmas and all the good that it does, the clerk (who is in the next office, freezing) can’t help himself. He applauds.
I love it.
I love it because we do the same thing that Scrooge’s nephew did, when we say, “Merry Christmas!” to one another. We warm each other’s hearts with those simple, yet powerful, words.
And I love it because that’s what Jesus did for us, some 2000 years ago. He entered the cold, bleak, biting of our world and basically said, “Merry Christmas, Everyone! God save you!”
Isn’t that just the best?
You don’t have to hate the cold as much as I do to know that Christmas changes everything.
And you don’t have to be like the clerk to applaud.