Christmas brings out the best in us and the worst in us, and one does not have to look far to find evidence of both. Every year social media and the nightly news are filled with stories of both good cheer and bah humbug. One example is annual toy drives with donated gifts (which bring out the best in us) where sometimes the collected presents for needy kids are stolen by unscrupulous thieves (the worst in us.) And while most of us aren’t pilfering toys meant for poor children, every parent in America knows the December battle - to keep their kids balanced between a spirit-of-the-season heart and selfish me!me!me! consumerism. Even parents have a hard time keeping that balance – ever seen videos of epic Black Friday cage matches for the newest toy or the screaming deal on a big screen?
In the Nutcracker, there are ample examples of characters acting selfishly, but our heroine, Clara, must learn to resist those impulses to help her family and the kingdom. Fortunately, two thousand years ago, someone modeled for us all how to keep our Christmas egos in check.
Her name was Mary, she was a nondescript teenager in a nowhere town, whose hand had been promised to a local carpenter. Until the day the angel, Gabriel, appeared to her saying, “Greetings, favored one,” he said.
Gabriel then proceeded to tell her that the Lord was with her, that she would have a great son (more than a great son, a king!) and that many miracles were coming her way. Later, when Mary went to visit her relative, Elizabeth called her “blessed among ALL women.” But did all these supernatural wonders and overwhelming accolades give this new holy queen a swelled sense of self?
Apparently not. Her response? “Here am I, a servant of the Lord; let it be with me” and in her song in Luke 1, Mary put all the honor and glory back where it belonged – on God. Mary might have been a teen, but she was already wise beyond her years.
As we move into the Christmas season and our wants, busy schedules and endless demands keep infecting our souls, remember Mary and her selfless spirit.