The beautiful theme of hope – the impossible becoming possible – runs throughout Advent, the season of wonder.
Perhaps children relate best to the whole idea of Advent, the thought that something good is coming to them as they count down to Christmas in hopeful anticipation. They look for signs that the special day is almost here: colored candles in church and songs they can sing along with on Sundays, bright lights shining in the night on neighboring houses.
When I was about 10, I pretty much knew what signs would bring me my very own Christmas Miracle. I grew up in Southern California, home of the film industry, and I’d seen all the movies. Every time a bells rings an angel gets his or her wings, Santa Claus is alive and well all the way across the country on 34th Street, and even farther away in England God blessed us every one because a miserly old man was scared straight by some ghosts. But I knew that magical and holy things happened on Christmas, too. I heard stories that animals were granted the power of speech every Christmas Eve at midnight. I thought that if I could stay up until that magic hour on Christmas Eve, something wondrous would happen to me. I would see the Star of Bethlehem pointing the way to where the baby Jesus was lying on straw in a manger. If I could catch this brilliance at just the right moment and wish hard enough on it, two of my biggest dreams would come true. One of them was that it would snow. The other was that my dad would be able to walk normally again.
I must have done this on more than one Christmas – waiting in my bed for everyone to be asleep. No mean feat since three sisters slept in the same room – two of us in the same bed. When the lights went out, I put a pair of socks on my hands. I ‘d never seen mittens in my life and wanted to be prepared for the snowfall that I knew was coming that very night. Every day in the weeks before Christmas I made comments on the weather to anyone who would listen. “Looks like those could be snow clouds on the mountains…I’ll bet this year they are headed our way…”
I slipped out the front door, close to midnight, praying that it wouldn’t squeak and betray me to my dad. He might not understand why his possibly not-quite- right daughter was standing in the driveway in the dark dressed only in her pajamas, anklets on her wrists, mouth open and ready to catch a snowflake on her tongue. I looked into that winter sky for what seemed like hours, trying to find the brightest star until my neck hurt. I just knew that one of them would surely be the one to point the way for me.
I never saw that star, my socks returned to the purpose for which they were made, and the clouds stayed over the San Gabriel Mountains.
But my hopeful spirit returns every year because the Star of Bethlehem shines in my heart and leads me to love that Baby in the manger during the Christmas season and always. My dad walks proud and strong, I’m sure, in Paradise, and now I live in upstate New York where it snows. Every year. A lot.
With God nothing is impossible.