The Christmas Star
When I heard of the great conjunction just last month, I reflected upon how the birth of Jesus Christ instilled hope in the hearts of a nation darkened with political unrest and religious turmoil. Similarly, the alignment of the two super giants in the solar system has been likened to the mystery of the Star of Bethlehem, a now modern beacon of hope for humankind as we progress through the chaos and unknown of a raging pandemic. My ongoing reflection of these times of uncertainty and the meaning behind this once-in-a-life-time event often brings me back to the years of simplicity when I was a little girl.
The internet was nonexistent in the 60s, but I had an array of beautiful books with big, bright pictures and simple words that I could start to sound out. I was quite an imaginative child and often longed to be a part of the books I read. One of my favorite books was about the story of Christmas. I can still remember gazing in wonderment at all the beautiful pictures in these books: the Magi on the camels following the big, bright beautiful star with that long tail, the baby Jesus in the manger surrounded by Joseph, Mary, and of course, the donkey, the lamb, and the ox. As I ran my hands over the nativity scene, I wished I could snuggle with the animals in the lofty, soft straw, feel the warmth of their soft fur, and see the magnificent light of that big, bright, beautiful star shining on the manger. I would look at the pictures for hours wishing and hoping that my dreams would come true.
It was Christmas Eve and I tried very hard how to figure out how I can be part of that beautiful nativity scene that I read about almost every day leading up to Christmas Eve. We didn't live in the country, so my dream of hanging out with the barnyard animals was out of the question – plus the family was too busy preparing the Christmas eve meal, roasting chestnuts on the fireplace, and making fresh-baked cookies for Santa – I don't think mom and dad would drive me to a farm so I can hang out with some barnyard animals. So I thought, and thought, and thought about how I could make the magic of Christmas just like I saw in my books. Then the brilliant idea came to me: It is Christmas Eve – I wonder if I can see that bright, beautiful star with the long tail in the sky! I should be able to – and I was bound and determined to find it.
It was a cold, brisk night as the sun had already set. I peered out the living room window and saw that it was a clear night with just a dusting of snow on the ground. I walked into the closet and started to put on my coat, hat, scarf and warm winter boots. I reach in my pockets to pull out my gloves, when one of them fell out and fell on the landing. I reach down to pick it up and as I turned to face the door, my father was standing right before me. ''Where are you going, Linda?'' He said in an inquiring tone. At this point, I was hoping he would not stop me from going outside, because I really wanted to go look for the star. So I just told him – ''I want to see if I can find the big star with the big white tail.'' He looked at me a little puzzled at first, and I continued, ''You know – the one that was in the sky when Jesus was born.'' He nodded his head with a smile on his face and said,'' ah, I see.... ok – but just for a few minutes – it is almost time to eat - I will be right here watching you.'' So off I went – excited yet a little scared I was going out there by myself. I knew dad was watching, but I was always used to having an adult around me at all times.
Our backyard was completely fenced in with a 2-car garage off to the side. The backyard was filled with many fruit trees which were now hibernating in the Midwest winter. The crunches of a few leaves left over from the fall season were felt under my boots. A motion light would go on and off occasionally, but I made sure it would not impinge on my adventure looking for the star with the long tail. There were many beautiful stars out that evening, but no matter what direction I looked – there was no big star with a big long tail. I turned around to face my house to see the reassuring silhouette of my dad peering through the window. I continued walking and looking in each direction – I wasn't exactly sure were the star would be, but I kept looking. The cool, crisp winter air felt good on my face, as the house was getting warm with all the cooking and baking going on. It was so peaceful and quiet, as I could now see the moon starting to rise – but no star. After what seemed like endless hours, I started back towards the house, seeing my dad waving for me to come back in. Needless to say, I was a little bummed that I could not see that big star with the long tale, but that didn't deter my hopes for the upcoming years. As I walked in the door and started to take off my coat, my dad just looked at me and asked if I was ok. I don't think he wanted to tell me that the star was only seen that night almost 2000 years ago. But I was ok. I didn't cry because the star was not there. Somehow, deep inside of me, I continued to believe and hope that I would one day see that big star with the long tail.
Year after year, I continued to venture out after sunset in search of the star, which I learned was called the North Star, or the Star of Bethlehem. I hoped and wished every year to see that bright, beautiful star on Christmas Eve. No matter where I lived, and no matter how old I was, I always went outside on Christmas Eve and searched the sky for that one beautiful star. It was not until this year that we were able to catch a glimpse of the great conjunction, theorized to possibly be this infamous star. This was really amazing news to me. For all those years I wished and hoped as a little girl to catch a glimpse of this famous star, and the possibility the conjunction of 2020 was the Star of Bethlehem was a humbling experience for me – my personal testament of the persistent of hope.
Was the conjunction of 2020 really the Star of Bethlehem that the Magi followed over 2000 years ago to pay home to one of greatest Kings known in history? One will never truly know, but as a little girl in awe of that that bright star with the long tail in her books, I am reminded of that the spirit of hope prevails if one can hold on.