“The main trouble is there are too many people who don't know where they're going and they want to get there too fast!”
Sylvester (The Bishop’s Wife, 1947)
I’m waiting for The Wonderful.
It’s coming as sure as there will be white Christmases, holiday decorations, familiar old songs, eggnog, stuffed stockings and presents under the tree. Many of us have the luxury of fond memories, enticing smells of things cooking and a landscape that twinkles with a thousand lights to remind us. Some have not been as fortunate.
But we must remember that there is more to Christmas than the things we might receive and give. I have come to call it The Wonderful. It has to do with a marvelous transformation that seems to happen to people this time of the year. Waiting for The Wonderful creates an atmosphere of childlike joy. The possibility of a miracle reigns supreme. Something extraordinary is coming as our waiting takes on a joy of its’ own.
Christmas movies always put me ‘in the mood’ for the coming festivities. Among my favorites are old black and whites from post-World War II. The men and women who had been engaged in devastating struggles of battle were back home and in the process of creating a bold new world. They rolled up their sleeves, went to work, built houses, attended schools, and dreamed dreams of prosperity.
By 1947, the simple times and ways of a Norman Rockwell agri-rural America were forever altered. Along with the many changes came a more bountiful and materialistic focus on Christmas. Presents were stacked under lighted trees instead of hung on branches. More became better…and that notion was reflected in the movies.
Two very different films were presented that year. One was ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ which portrayed the Macys parade and an abundance of shopping. The other was ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ which reminded a hurried nation to slow it down and to think about what our Christmas observance was all about. This picture sums up the essence of The Wonderful. It ended with a Bishop’s sermon written by an angel. This is what he said;
“Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child's cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven't forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells and with gifts. But especially with gifts.
You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled...all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up.
The stocking for the child born in a manger. It's his birthday we are celebrating. Don't ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what he would wish for most... and then let each put in his share. Loving-kindness, warm hearts and the stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”
Today, amid all the hustle and bustle, I will remember to fill a stocking in my heart with the most important gift of all. I will eagerly welcome The Wonderful.