It's Christmas time and I could talk about Christmas traditions, Christmas magic, Christmas spirit. The season offers a lot of opportunity for reflection.
But what I'm going to discuss is a Christmas book, The Littlest Angel, and its impact on me years ago. I've posted this piece before, but I still feel it's relevant and I feel like sharing it again.
According to the front page of the book, The Littlest Angel was written in 1939 at the request of Screen Guild producers, who asked Charles Tazwell to "write something" as a backup plan if one of the guild's productions fell through. The crisis that it was created to avert never happened but the story aired on a Christmas radio show. In 1946, the book was released by Childrens Press of Chicago. The story was presented in various forms over the years, from radio, to book, to magazine, to record, to a Hallmark Hall of Fame production in 1969.
A brief summary of the story:
Many, many years ago, a four-year-old boy entered heaven. From his first step into paradise he upset the heavenly peace with his behavior and fairly unangelic antics, though he tried to do what was expected of him. But mostly he missed the things on earth he had enjoyed – trees to climb, streams to fish, and caves to play in – and he longed for the sun and the rain and dark of night and light of dawn.
When he learned of the homesickness the littlest angel was suffering, the Understanding Angel sent a messenger to procure a box of the littlest angel's treasures from earth, and from then on the boy was a happy and angelic angel.
As the birth of baby Jesus approached, the heavens were excited and all angels gathered to place gifts for the holy infant at the feet of God. Even the littlest angel had found a suitable gift and placed it lovingly in the pile of gifts. But when he saw his unsightly box among the other glorious gifts, he felt embarrassed and wanted to take it back and hide it.
When God's hand moved over the selection of gifts, he stopped at the box from the littlest angel. The littlest angel was so afraid as the box was opened and everyone including God saw the gift he offered. It was nothing, he thought. It was simply a butterfly with golden wings, a sky-blue egg, two white stones, and a tooth-marked collar once worn by his dog. He was miserable. To think he'd believed these simple things would be fitting gifts for Jesus.
But God singled out his gifts as the gift that pleased Him most. And the rough, unsightly gift began to glow, rise, and shine brilliantly over the stable where the baby Jesus was born. And all men called it the shining star of Bethlehem.
The message of this book gave me a confidence boost when I was young. It came back to me as an adult, still powerful, and reminded me to be myself and not judge my writing so harshly. We writers give from our hearts and hope others enjoy the stories we create as much as we enjoy writing them. It's important to love our own stories.
I wish you all the blessing of self-actualization, free from harsh self-judgment, this holiday season. May you see the beauty in your gift.
What books have not only entertained you but given you useful insights?