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Some people want to credit Charles Dickens with creating the imagery of a white Christmas. This has led other people to accuse Dickens of being full of hokum because England—especially London—just doesn’t get all that much snow, especially at Christmastime.

Then, as is often the case, someone actually looked into the facts and altered the narrative. Turns out that the first nine years of Dickens’ life were some of the snowiest winters in England’s history and that it was actually snowy at Christmas. Dickens wasn’t just making up a holiday picture, he was recalling the picture he’d seen when he was little—the picture he wished he could find again.

This may be true for almost all of us who call Christmas our favorite holiday: a mixture of what we remember it to be and a dream of what it never was.

Growing up and living most of my adult life inTexas, I’ve had fewer white Christmases than Dickens did. And the ones I had were more of a dusting of snow than something you could go sledding on. Still, there are those snowman ornaments on the tree and the plastic white stuff around the bases of my Charlie Brown figurines and when I think of Christmas there’s snow on the trees outside even though there never has been in my “real life”.

Christmas is about imagery. Ever for those of us who celebrate it as the birth of the Son of God, we’ve added a lot of pictures that weren’t part of the original story. Was there an innkeeper? Did the wise men show up on the night of the birth or much later? Was it even on December 25th?

Maybe we can’t help it. Look at that last paragraph. To even contemplate the birth of God to a woman … wow! It boggles the mind. It sounds ludicrous when you think about it. So we couch it in pictures we can understand and grasp. Farm animals like I can see at the yards down the street. A young father and a younger mother—maybe something like my wife and I eighteen years ago. A stable.

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So all I have to hear is the word “Christmas” and a thousand pictures come to mind, two thousand sounds, and half a thousand smells. One little word and I starting thinking of phrases like, “And there were in the same country, shepherds … “ and I see Jimmy Stewart jumping off a bridge and remember presents and meals and …

I love Christmas and wandering through it and I’m ready to start.

 

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About Sam White

Samuel Ben White (“Sam” to his friends) is the author of the national newspaper comic strip “Tuttle’s” (found at www.tuttles.net) and the on-line comic book “Burt & the I.L.S.” (found at www.destinyhelix.com). He is married and has two sons. He serves his community as both a minister at a small church and a chaplain with hospice. In addition to his time travel stories, Sam has also written and published detective novels, a western, three fantasy novels and four works of Christian fiction.

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