The 12 Blessings of Christmas

The holiday season is a time of joy, reflection, and wonder for people of all faiths.

12 Blessings of Christmas

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11. The Blessing of Smell

My friend Brent Bill, an Indiana minister and author of Awaken Your Senses, says that every one of our senses can bring a deeper, richer Christmas—and open us to experience the presence of God.

“The presence of God is actually all around us, all the time,” explains Brent. “But as we grow up, we step away from the sensory experiences that transmit that awareness, and we just move through the world with our heads.”

The thing is, if we take time to mindfully pay attention and re-awaken those senses, they can get us out of our heads and open us to an awareness of God’s presence.

The result is a sense of what Brent calls “the holy ordinary.”

“When I smell my wife Nancy’s yeast rolls,” he adds, “I know that love and joy are about to pop into the room.”

12. The Blessing of Silence

Rural Church at Night, December 30, 1944, Mead Schaeffer
The Blessing of Silence
Rural Church at Night
Mead Schaeffer
December 30, 1944

Thinking about the rich scent of Nancy’s rolls awakens me to the heavy fragrance of fresh pine permeating my car—and I realize that I’ve been sitting in the clearing, counting my blessings for almost 20 minutes. Shaking my head, I gather up my baskets and an armload of pine, then step outside the car and look around the clearing at the sparkling snow, the gnarled wood of old trees against a clear blue sky, the tracks of a tiny mouse.

The silence that surrounds me is centuries old. It is round and full and whole. It has weight. It has texture. And in a world that chatters, tweets, texts, and howls 24/7, perhaps that’s the biggest blessing of all.

To view a video of the Middlebury College-Community Choir Messiah Sing, visit

Ellen Michaud wrote the award-winning book Blessed: Living a Grateful Life, and is the writer-in-residence at Earlham School of Religion.

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