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Douglas MacKinnon: Christmas 2020 — if ever there was a year to capture the holiday spirit this is it

Like a great many people in this nation and around the world desperately seeking a needed distraction and happy mental escape from the year of the coronavirus pandemic and seemingly non-stop negative news, I put up my Christmas lights and decorations earlier than normal.

More than that, I began to roll through my collection of Christmas movies.  And in doing so, I found a quote that crystalized why it’s so very important to take leaps of faith while never giving up on hope.

In the John Hughes 1994 remake of “The Miracle on 34th Street,” the Kris Kringle character (as played by the late Sir Richard Attenborough) is having a heart-to-heart discussion with the Dorey Walker character (as played by Elizabeth Perkins). 

As all who know the story understand — either from the 1947 original starring Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood, and John Payne, or the 1994 remake – the Mrs. Walker character has been hurt by life and become much more withdrawn and guarded. And because of her personal pain, she felt it best to “protect” her young daughter Susan, by teaching her not to believe in “fairy-tales, myths,” or even “Santa Claus.”

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Deeply saddened by this development, the Kris Kringle character attempts to explain to Mrs. Walker why belief and hope are so critically important to the human psyche.

“I am not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor,” he says to the doubting and despondent mother.  “I am a symbol.  I’m a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives.  If you can’t believe…if you can’t accept anything on faith…then you will be doomed to a life dominated by doubt.”

Life is often about accepting things purely on faith.

Many times, such acceptance builds our character, fills our hearts with joy, reinforces our faith, and gives us the strength to go on.

Christmas-time and the holiday season, in general, are all about accepting the “impossible” on faith.   

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Precisely because of the pandemic, the lockdowns, and the accompanying financial and mental despair they have wrought, the 2020 Christmas and holiday season will prove to be the saddest and even most tragic on record for millions of Americans as well as those around the world.

For the countless children being hurt by this smothering reality, what better time to believe in a “whimsical figure who wears a charming suit” and delivers dreams fulfilled?

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For those who are more touched by the spiritual implications of the Christmas and holiday season, what better time to possess the faith to believe in God or a power greater than us all.

In so many sorrowful ways, 2020 has created a “life dominated by doubt.”

Doubt about a way out of the pandemic. Doubt about the welfare of our families. Doubt about a better and more “normal” future.

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If ever there was a time to call upon our inner-strength to accept –purely on faith — that we are stepping upon a lighted path out of this world-wide darkness, then the 2020 Christmas and holiday season is it.

Believe.

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