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Christmas Is One Big Prayer

A poet offers a unique definition prayer that definitely describes this most holiest of holidays.

Prayer blogger Rick Hamlin

As a child I used to wonder how Santa managed to get all those toys in his sleigh—just the right toys, too—delivered to all the children in the world.

Now, as an adult, I wonder how we grownups get all the presents for everybody on our lists while sending Christmas cards, figuring out what to eat for Christmas dinner, decorating the house, getting the tree, getting everybody to church on time. How do we do it?

The same way Santa did.

We call on the same resources that kept his sleigh airborne and kept us awake as kids, our heads dancing with visions of sugarplums, Barbies and Legos. I’m sure there were years when I didn’t get what I asked for but I only remember getting just what I wanted. I’m sure there are too many people I’ve forgotten with my hastily scrawled cards and badly wrapped gifts. (I look with dismay at the ticking clock on the retail websites, telling me that I’ve missed the chance to get it there by Christmas, even if sent FedEx overnight. Where are Santa’s reindeer?)

And yet, it all happens. The choir rehearses and rehearses and we don’t get the piece right until we sing it on Christmas Eve in a packed church lit by candlelight. Wow, somehow, it all came together, even that note that always went flat. Those relatives that strain our patience any other day of the week—why do they suddenly seem so much more pleasant on Christmas Day, and how did they think to buy that blue checked button-down shirt that fits just right? The cough that we got two days ago … it doesn’t bother us as much today. And the bad news in the newspaper? Why are there so many stories that fill me with hope?

“To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself,” said the poet W.H. Auden. By that definition Christmas is one big prayer. All the rushing around, catching the flight home, driving to the grandparents’, baking the cookies, writing the thank-you notes, they take us so far outside of ourselves that we feel more like ourselves than ever before.

Santa, and Santa’s elves, kept it all airborne with love. So do we. Merry Christmas!         

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