As we go through the holidays, let’s not forget that stocking and its owner

Published 7:04 pm Thursday, December 21, 2023

One of the hardest tasks for me is writing a column for Christmas.

I guess what makes it hard is that over the years I, and I’m sure other columnists, begin running out of stories to tell about Christmases past and different ways to call for peace on earth or tell how the true meaning of Christmas is lost in all the commercialism that dominates the season.

So for this Christmas, I’ve decided to go back and pull a column I did a few years ago that was inspired by a movie.

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I’m going to use the closing sermon from the 1947 movie “The Bishop’s Wife,” which starred David Niven, Loretta Young and Cary Grant. In the movie, Niven plays a bishop seeking guidance, and his prayers are answered in the form of an angel played by Grant.

At the close of the movie,  Niven delivered this message — which was ghostwritten by Grant — as his Christmas sermon:

“Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

“Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells and with gifts.

“But especially with gifts. You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer, and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up; the stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.

“Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then let each put in his share: loving kindness, warm hearts and a stretched out hand of tolerance – all the shining gifts that make peace on earth.”

The Christmas season is a wonderful and festive time of the year with homes and businesses decorated with lights and inflatable characters in the yards, and it’s easy to get caught up in our little worlds as we go shopping for that perfect gift or the ingredients that will make Christmas dinner extra special.

So while we’re taking care of those last-minute preparations, let’s not forget the child for whom that empty stocking waits; He’s the real reason for this season we’re celebrating. He grew into a man who preached love, tolerance and peace and later died for us. Let’s make sure we keep him in our hearts and minds this Christmas.

May you and your families have a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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