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The Empty Plate

It is a tradition to leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk out for Santa. Perhaps the reindeer get a carrot or two. We carry the ritual on from our own childhood and pass it along to the next generation. It is, it seems, one of the few customs to have survived through the ages at a time when we are more likely to discard anything we deem old fashioned and silly. Thankfully, this is one area that has escaped the modern need for political correctness. So far, Santa is still cool, and doesn’t seem to offend anybody’s sensibilities.

Somehow on this magical night of miracles, when our Savior was born, anything can happen. We don’t lock our doors or barricade ourselves inside. Instead, we invite the bearded stranger dressed in a red velvet suit into our homes as we sleep. It’s interesting when you look at it that way, right? It is the sign of ultimate trust, one that might be hard for us to imagine on any other night of the year.

But because of this, we learn that there is great power in that invitation, both literally and symbolically. Sadly, we build barricades, fearful of that which we try to keep out, and in the process, we miss opportunities for connection and growth. You see, there are bountiful gifts, much to be received, from that which we allow into our lives. And that is especially true if we open our hearts, the center and “home” for our earthly incarnation. We must provide a special space for the blessings, welcoming in the experiences and people who will enrich our lives. Undoubtedly, the most precious example comes to us as a sacred invisible presence, the Holy Spirit, which patiently knocks, waiting for an answer.

Just as on Christmas morning, we wake to an empty plate and glass, the tangible proof that Santa has indeed been there, so then are we able to stop and close our eyes to feel the gifts of the spirit, given to us by a Divine Benefactor. It is a season of wonders, of delight and surprises, all because of the precious Christ Child, who came into this world to change everything, to give us hope and peace, and ultimately, to teach us how to live and how to love.

We don’t always need to see to believe: that’s the primary tenant of faith. But we must feel to understand. And at Christmas, when we fill our cup of cheer to the brim and wish each other well, we are reminded that we celebrate in the same way as our ancestors did. We talk of the star and tell the miraculous story to our children, along with countless others all over the world, who share in this time of joy, peace, and goodwill. For one brief moment, we are all part of one big family, happily rejoicing. And we are, most importantly, brought together by the birth of a very special baby. May we never forget the true meaning of Christmas.

In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, everyone.”

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