Each year thousands of people who are not typical ballet fans watch the “Nutcracker,” the most popular ballet in the U.S. It was first performed in 1892. Maria Tallchief’s performance in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in 1954 helped turn the Nutcracker into the annual Christmas blockbuster it is today. According to Wikipedia, major ballet companies in the U.S. generate about 40% of their annual ticket revenue from performances of this famous ballet alone.
I suspect most of my readers are not ballet fans, so in this column instead of writing about a ballet, I want to write about the “Clark’s Nutcracker” which is not a performance, but an extraordinary bird. James Banks wrote about it in his Dec. 21, 2022, Our Daily Bread Devotional. He described how this remarkable bird prepares for the upcoming winter months by hiding many tiny reserves of three to five pine seeds. Sometimes it may stash as many as 500 seeds in a single hour. During the winter months, the bird will return to the seeds and find them, even if covered with snow.
An individual Clark’s Nutcracker may store and remember as many as 98,000 seeds in 10,000 hiding places. When we consider how forgetful humans often are this is especially amazing since these birds remember where their seeds are hidden.
Before Jesus’ birth, Jewish people had been anticipating the arrival of the Messiah for centuries. Generation after generation looked for his coming and died without witnessing it. But God had not forgotten about the Messiah.
In the Christmas story we read, “And while they were there the time came for her baby to be born.” (Luke 2:6, NLT, my emphasis) It sounds like it was merely Mary’s time to have the baby, but the Apostle Paul’s description of the event makes it clear it was not just Mary’s time, it was when God wanted Jesus to arrive. “But when the right time came God sent his Son, born to a woman.” (Galatians 4:4, NLT, my emphasis)
Many people have moments when they feel God had forgotten them, but despite what you and I may think, God never forgets. His memory is infinitely better than yours or mine or even the Clark’s Nutcracker.
During the busy rush of Christmas, we may forget the one this season is all about, but thankfully he neither forgets us, nor his plans for us. In the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, take a moment to reflect on the one who came at just the right time. Let us thank him since while we may sometimes feel he has forgotten us the reality is he never forgets anyone.
According to Spotify, while 75% of people enjoy Christmas music, 17% of Americans do not. However, I suspect some of those who are not fans may like the song, from the Charlie Brown Christmas Album: “Christmas Time Is Here.” Wikipedia describes the album as “an unorthodox mix of traditional Christmas music and jazz.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas originally aired in 1965. Though many thought the TV special would not be popular, it drew widespread recognition and was repeated each Christmas for the next 35 years. It even won both Emmy and Peabody Awards.
In the 1960’s the Peanuts comic strip was extremely popular. One of the characters, Linus, was known to always be afraid. His security blanket was with him constantly and he was not embarrassed by it. Linus keeping his blanket with him annoyed his sister Lucy and she repeatedly tried to take it from him. At different times she buried the blanket, turned it into a kite and once even tried to use it as a science project. Though deep-down Linus knew he should not rely on the blanket, and would even occasionally let go of it, he could never leave it behind.
In the classic Christmas special, Charlie Brown moaned about how the holiday was no longer meaningful. He asked, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” At that moment, Linus, dragging his security blanket took center stage and quoted the Christmas story directly from scripture:
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:8–14, ESV)
The moment Linus quoted the angel’s statement, “Fear not…” in verse 10, he dropped his blanket, he did not need it anymore, his fear was gone.
All of us may be frightened by something, but according to both the angels and Linus, the Christmas story offers us hope. The Savior’s birth means it is possible for each of us to find peace with God.
Merry Christmas everyone! May you discover the hope the angel proclaimed to the shepherds over 2000 years ago this holiday season.