I love that Christmas centers on a story. Of course, religious doctrines developed from it, but the story is still the main thing—you’re not going to find a Christmas celebration (that is, a Christian one) that does not at least reference a baby in the manger.
So it’s appropriate for us to look for stories all around us at this time of year. There are stories about weather, births, deaths, gifts, accidents, miracles, reunions, travel—anything at all. This week, think about your family. What stories have occurred in your family during the Christmas season? What memories get stirred up this time of year, and then what do you do with them?
Everyone has a Christmas that included some beautiful, wonderful experience, such as the birth of a grandchild or the long-awaited visit of a relative or friend from far away.
Everyone has the story we might call “The Christmas from Hell”—when there was the big family blow-up, or when a car crash injured or killed someone, or when someone got laid off three days before the holiday.
And I think everyone has a story we could call “The Christmas That Changed Me.” It could be any kind of change, but it was major, and we still remember it vividly.
- Think about your own stories. Which ones do you love, and which ones bring up the need for healing?
- Is there a Christmas story from your family that would be worth writing down? On Thursday, we’ll do a writing exercise to help you do just that.
A Little Book about Story
St. Ignatius understood the power of story. In his Spiritual Exercises, he encouraged the person on retreat to put him- or herself into a Gospel story, allowing the Holy Spirit to work through the imagination to help, teach, and encourage.
Several years ago, I wrote a Christmas novella, The Winter Seeking, that involved such a meditation. The main character, a young woman who is having a rough holiday, is encouraged by her spiritual director to put herself in the nativity story and then rewrite it. And so a good portion of this novella is the young woman’s experience of Mary, Joseph, the child, and their strange circumstances.
This book went out of print, but it is now available as an eBook. You can read it in an evening, so I hope you’ll check it out.