From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Book of Christmas Virtues

Wonder Full

The true path to Christmas, it is said, lies through an ancient gate.

And, according to the sages, the gate is child-wide and child-high, and the secret password is a childlike sigh. A sigh of wonder.

Come, take my hand. Bend low and slip through the arbor for a glimpse of Mother Nature at her most generous: into the lush hush of Christmas in the Rockies . . . where pinions sprawl, ponderosas slumber and bristlecones snuggle in quiet companionship. Where spruce trees—too green to be black, yet too black to be green—pace the perimeters of the forest glade like expectant fathers. Where cobalt shadows float, mysterious and beckoning, beneath supple pines while winter’s wind breathes hints of miracles to come.

Billowing whiteness greets us and glistens under wide winter heavens, star-studded with promise to chase away the dark. Each intricately petaled snowflake is food for rambling thought and fancy; pieced together, they make a downy coverlet that wraps us with anticipation.

Above this scene, a sliver of divinity crowns the night sky, spikes mounds of snow with intoxicating moonshine and then, satisfied, preens itself in the mirrored skin of a crystal mountain lake. And, all the while, stellar luminaries capture this pristine image in a series of freeze-framed moments—an album of memories to treasure.

Even as it scours the warmth from our days, winter plies us with tender gestures—if we seek them. As Henry David Thoreau once said,“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”

What do we choose to see in winter? Icy porches, slushy sidewalks, a drive to shovel? Or is our vision filled with eye-catching “still lifes” and Currier-and-Ives vistas?

How do we let wonder weave its way into our thoughts? How do we convince it to replace indifference,detachment and apathy?

It’s simple. Watch a small child. Spend time with a child. Take a child’s hand in yours, walk through the fabled gate. . .and witness the miracle of discovery and endless possibilities.

A child sees a skating rink on every icy porch.

A child sees puddle possibilities in every slushy sidewalk.

A child sees snow angels to create, snow forts to construct, snowballs to roll and snowmen to build in every uncleared driveway.

Children are excitement seekers. They gravitate toward surprise, amazement, awe and astonishment. An air of expectancy swirls around them like hot chocolate. They hope. They marvel. They share a powerful belief that miracles happen. They live with a broader sense of wonder. They point out the beauty, the opportunities and the experiences we might otherwise miss.

At this yuletide season, perhaps more than any other, we can inhale the innocence of youth. We can see Christmas—and the world—through different eyes. We can seek out this treasure worth preserving. We can learn the virtue of wonder and rehearse it until it sings through our veins.

And we can do it by becoming more childlike. Recall the old poem,“Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight; make me a child again just for tonight”(Elizabeth Akers Allen).Take it to heart.

Let yourself be surprised. Don’t be reluctant to express admiration or to exclaim in delight. Show enthusiasm. Practice joy. Spread ardor. Above all, look for magic and hope for miracles this Christmas. You’ll find them on the wispy wings of wonder . . . just beyond the garden gate.

More stories from our partners