merry and bright.

We all have our favorite Christmas movies, songs and traditions… the ones that really make the season feel right! For some, it is not Christmas until cookies have been baked or wreaths have been hung. For others, the season has not yet arrived until cards have been mailed and wrapped gifts are under the tree. My holiday season officially starts when I light the fireplace and watch Irving Berlin’s White Christmas [for the first of several times during the month of December]!

I do not recall the first time I ever saw the movie, but every time I do, feelings of happiness and contentment wrap me in warmth like a blanket. I love the storyline, set in the post-WWII era, the character plot, and all the song and dance throughout the 1954 film.. especially when Bing Crosby sings ‘White Christmas!’

My favorite line from the tune, “may all your days be merry and bright,” sets the tone for the season.

Something about White Christmas simply elicits a sense of anticipation not only of the holiday season, but also of a new season of life, as new romances bloom and old friends reunite. Two former Army soldiers team up in a song-and-dance act following the war and following two lovely sisters, end up at a small ski lodge in Vermont for the holiday. The men’s former General owns the lodge and is struggling to make a profit in a ski resort with NO SNOW! The men not only bring their entire cast to Vermont to rehearse a special holiday music show, but they also invite every soldier and his family living in the region to join them for the Christmas Eve production to surprise the General.

I tear up every time as I watch the gleaming-eyed General tell his men that their PRESENCE is the best Christmas PRESENT he has ever received! 

What a gift! These men packed up their families and traveled on Christmas Eve to surprise and support a man they loved. Can you imagine? Talk about putting others’ needs before your own…

Their selfless act of kindness reminds me of Jesus’ words to his disciples:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:12-13, ESV

With a careful eye, we can see the love of Christ weaved into the storyline of this secular movie. Everyday life is no different. Holiday times tend to be busy with lengthy to-do lists and endless activities. We so easily lose focus of the true meaning of the season in the hustle and bustle.

Peace and joy are ever-present, but I do not always feel the peace and joy of the season until the holiday is nearly over. Is it even possible to make our days merry and bright, or are those just words that we sing?

Surely you can relate to my dilemma!? I believe the answer is quite simple and requires that we DO LESS rather than do more. Yes, I am suggesting that we actually reduce our to-do lists and our engagements and spend the time enjoying the present moment. That is when we will experience merry hearts and bright days. It is far easier to see a bright light when we are not looking directly into a mirror. Slow down and look around you. Take it all in, and search your surroundings for glimpses of Jesus. His light is shining everywhere; we just must stop and see it. Find that light and let it be your guide into this new year, this new season of life.

I leave you with the words of the prophet Isaiah, as he offers encouragement to the Israelites as they prepare to move into a new season of life and anticipate the coming Messiah (Jesus Christ the Lord). I encourage you to take a moment and let these words pour over you. Let them sink deep into your soul. Then your light will shine as you beam the radiating love of Christ to others around you!

“Arise, shine, for your LIGHT has come, and the glory of the Lord SHINES over you. For look, darkness will cover the earth, and total darkness the peoples; but the Lord will SHINE over you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to your shining brightness. Raise your eyes and look around.. Then you will see and be RADIANT, and your heart will tremble and REJOICE.” -Isaiah 60:1-5, CSB

May your days truly be merry and bright! Happy New Year!

ESV = English Standard Version Bible; CSB = Christian Standard Bible

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