Stories shape us. They shape our thoughts, our perceptions and our responses to the world. In this Yuletide season, we may be enthralled with Christmas stories. Every year, Christmas stories became more and more popular together with ornamented Christmas tree, Christmas gifts, and the overall Christmas spirit. Christmas stories are important tools for spreading good spirit of Christmas. Actually, it is said that when Charles Dickens wrote his story in the 18th century, A Christmas Carol, the celebration of Christmas was on the wane. But he used his story to describe Christmas as a time of love, a time of joy, a time when people respect each other, and a time when everything goes well.
For the kids, a famous holiday story is that of Santa Claus, referred also as Saint Nicholas in European communities. Saint Nicolas has been known in European tradition and religious history as the courier of gifts and prosperity. The modern-day image of Santa Claus, which depicts good old Santa Claus in red robes happily singing while riding on his flying reindeer-driven sleigh, was featured as a TV ad by Coca-Cola during the 1970s, and it has stuck in the minds of children and grownups alike up until now.
There are also Christmas stories about the personal lives of famous people and even celebrities, and some have been shown as movies. There are even stories about the childhood holiday memories of various people that have been written on books so as to share their experiences with the world. A widely popular book about an individual’s personal holiday experiences is ‘The Christmas Story’ by Jean Shepherd and released as a movie during the early 1980s.
The purpose of Christmas stories is to capture the spirit of the season often with touching stories about the miracles related to Christ’s birth. Many of these stories, even the modern ones, have become a part of the Christmas traditions in many countries.
The greatest of all Christmas stories is of course the story about Jesus’ birth. For me, it is the best story of love...the story for falling in love...the story for staying in love. Every time we read stories, we are on a journey of discovery. In the story of the Nativity, we are invited to join Mary and Joseph in their journey of discovery. When Joseph and Mary are looking up at the baby in the manger, they invite us to share in their great joy. And this great joy is the good news for all people, ‘… and he came for us’. When Joseph and Mary are nestling the baby, they invite us to cuddle the child in our arms because he is ours, too. When Joseph and Mary are gazing the child’s face, they invite us to let him lock eyes with us, so that he can search our hearts - to fall in love with him and to stay in love with him.
Obviously, after reading stories, we responded in one way or the other - we cry, laugh, shudder, wince, frown, sigh, sulk and many more. When our hearts seize the real message of the story of Nativity, we allow the little child to be the light of our lives- to shine his glory and his mercy into every corner and dark place in us, so as to bring his light in all darkness of sin, confusion, fear and hatred. And this is the most beautiful act of response we could give to the story of Jesus’ birth.
John 1:9 says, ‘He is the true light which enlightens everyone’. If we allow the Light to take hold of our lives, we could discover in our journey that his light will never be extinguished.
In one of our relief works, I came to know Buboy, a family man whose house was ruthlessly damaged by typhoon Yolanda. He has six children and he drives a tricycle for a living. One of my companion sisters made an effort to look for Buboy at the evacuation area. This sister of mine in the convent could not forget his kindness. When she was a high school student, Buboy was the tricycle driver who patiently waited for her dismissal every day. When we visited the devastated area where Buboy resides, most of the houses were powdered by the super typhoon. It was so heart breaking. Buboy managed to repair his house with the help of the aid and with his little knowledge in carpentry. A week before Christmas we visited the place again and we were surprised to see many of the damaged houses were partially repaired. Houses have roofs already so they are not staying in tents anymore. One of their unsung heroes was Buboy. We came to know that he repaired too quickly his house so he could help hapless families, too. We affirmed him and with a grin he said in Karay’a; “Mu dya lang makaya ko ma’krismas kananda sister”. (Only this I could give them this Christmas sister.) Buboy has a deeper understanding of what this Christmas all about.
I believe this is only one of the many Christmas stories you could hear or read. There would be more hundred Christmas stories that can be told and could shape other lives if we chose to stay in love with the little child in the manger. Indeed, the true Light empowers us to be a light for others, too!
Start telling now your Christmas stories.
A blessed Christmas and a grace-filled New Year!
ABOUT THE SHARER:
SR. FILIAM ANN E. SEVILLENA, OP is the Vocation Directress of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines, Molo, Iloilo City and a student of Institute of Preaching of the Dominican Province of the Philippines.
Christmas, Cycle A, OP Sisters, Special,