“Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need to be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which (human beings) become entirely alive.”
-Robert Lynd

Christmas carries a special magic because it reminds us that life’s greatest thrill is childlike wonderment. The pageantry of the Christmas story takes us to a certain place in our own hearts that we only remember when we become children again ourselves. And since we cannot return to our own childhood in actuality, Christmas often means sharing in the innocent joy of children so that we might restore our own childlike hearts as well.

The toys, the lights, and indeed the story itself, are the backdrop of the true miracle, which is also the miracle behind many religious symbols. I have been in Jerusalem at Hanukkah and heard the city vibrate with that same childlike joy. The birth of Jesus, the awakening of the Buddha, the entry into the promised land are all dramatic reenactments of awakening to the gift of life. When we live this day as a gift, when we celebrate our own consciousness as if it were a light shining from the darkness, when we remember that our lives are interwoven with every other being, we become lost in wonder and joy.

Christmas means many things to many people. For me, this will be my first Christmas without my parents, both of whom have died recently. I expect the sadness of my personal memories will bring out the naked harsh beauty of universality even more clearly. We cannot capture life, so in times of pain we must give ourselves more fully to it. No matter what, we belong to the river of life.

This time of year is a reminder of three miracles: that anything exists at all, that this present moment is a precious gift no matter what is happening, and that we are one with all sentient life no matter how alone we may appear to be. Why would we ever need greater miracles than those?