I’m always on the lookout for Christmas books (devotions, novellas, short stories) and decent, uplifting Christmas movies – things that entertain and inspire, things that remind me of the reason we celebrate this season – Jesus.
Miracle on Christmas, a new family favorite, is a good movie for that. On the surface, it led me to take inventory of family relationships and personal challenges.
The storyline focuses on Mary Boyce, who is expecting extended family for Christmas dinner, but who is still grieving the recent death of her father. In fact, Mary is overwhelmed with depression so deep that it is straining all of her family relationships – husband, kids, sister, mom, atheist brother, and more. t isn’t a spoiler to reveal that there’s a “touched by an angel” element because it becomes quite evident in early scenes. The story is strong, the acting excellent, and the conclusion satisfying. Fans of Christian films will recognize actors Erin Bethea (Fireproof) and Jason Burkey (Mom’s Night Out, Woodlawn). Thomas Bonifield is executive producer and writer.
It’s worth checking out this Christmas season. For me, it also brought flashbacks to my own childhood miracles on Christmas.
One of my stand-out Christmas miracles occurred when I was about 5 years old. The Murphrees went to church on Sunday, December 25, and we were the only ones who showed up. We had church anyway. (And Daddy wasn’t a preacher.)
Fast forward three years…does anyone else remember Kodak Brownie Hawkeyes, View-Masters, and vintage Western Flyer bikes? I do. All three are among the miracle Christmases of my 1950s childhood. I was one of those kids whose rural family was poor by some standards, not in poverty but certainly not affluent.
Dad drove a Sinclair gasoline delivery truck and worked for TVA when it was building dams on the Tennessee River. Later, Mom and Dad both became teachers. But a teacher’s payday in that era was embarrassingly low. My research suggests they probably earned between $2,000 and $2,500 annually.
Looking back on the Christmases now, I can guess at the December balance in the bank account based on the gifts I received. Yet, there are a couple of times when I was stunned by perfect Christmas surprises.
Miracle of the Western Flyer
I was in third grade when I received a brand-new red Western Flyer bicycle. And I knew even then that it was an extravagant gift for a Murphree kid. There must have been money in the bank – or a local store that sold to Dad on credit.
It was a basic model. There was no basket for carrying stuff on the front. No battery-powered “headlight.” No “passenger seat” over the rear fender. No fancy tassels on the handlebars.
No training wheels. You just took your falls, dusted off your elbows, got back in the saddle, and tried again.
The best memories of the days following Christmas feature Dad and me out in the yard beside our house. The gentle slope was perfect for an 8-year-old learning to think, pedal, steer, and balance his shiny new bike – all at the same time. Braking came in lesson two.
Miracle of inspiring views
The next year, I received a View-Master, a boxy little toy into which you inserted a cardboard reel that had 18 color photos – e.g., historical sites, exotic locations, nature scenes.
With a reel in its slot, you placed your eyes to the side of the box that fitted against your face. Voila! There were bright colored slides of the Pacific Ocean. Or Mount Rushmore. Or New England fall foliage.
Things beyond the dreams of an Alabama country boy. It was a wonder to me. It was one of the early seeds that made me want to be a world traveler.
In sixth grade, I was stunned to receive a Kodak Brownie camera. For indoor photos, it came complete with an attachment for flashbulbs that would leave your subjects blinded for a few seconds. I still have photos from those days stored away in old albums…somewhere.
Miracle of 2020
This crazy, COVID Christmas season, why not settle in, enjoy family and friends as much as circumstances allow, read the Christmas story together; read it several times. Play some board games, put jigsaw puzzles together, watch your favorite Christmas movies – and maybe add Miracle of Christmas to your list.