Walt Disney's MARY POPPINS is in the air again, with its release on blu ray and the new movie SAVING MR. BANKS, about the musical fantasy's origins. Like THE WIZARD OF OZ, MARY POPPINS is an indelible part of our culture, and a rite of passage that generations have tunefully enjoyed.
Walt Disney and the musical's creators, the Sherman Brothers, concurred that the movie's main theme was found in the song: "Feed the Birds." Mary Poppins sings this song to her charges, Jane and Michael, to show how even a few coins called tuppence could feed an entire flock of hungry birds. Of course, the tuppence is more than just money. It is that potential in all of us to give of ourselves to others, to offer a little bit of love, which can make all the difference in people's lives.
Christmas is a time when we celebrate and worship a small and meek child bundled in a manger, who is surrounded by adoring parents, strangers and star-gazers. Just as the tuppence in MARY POPPINS is a small token of compassion which transforms the Banks family, so is the baby Jesus the tiny gift of compassion from God to us.
God's gift to us at Christmas and beyond is to show us how to love. What better way to learn how to love than by adoring the baby Jesus. When we pass on that love to others, we are responding to God's love, and thus changing the world.
We live in a world which needs a lot more love these days. Christmas shows us that our expressions of love need not be grand or ostentatious. The little things count. You never know what effect you may have on a person down the road. The smile you give a neighbor, the errand you run for a sick friend, the sympathetic ear you offer a stranger waiting in a doctor's office, and the extra kindness you show a family member, are just a few examples of love which cost only "tuppence," but can positively change that person's life forever.
So when we all gaze upon the manger this Christmas, and bring our gifts to the Christ child, don't worry if we only find tuppence in our pockets. In the words of Mary Poppins herself:
"Come feed the little birds, show them you care, and you'll be glad if you do. The young ones are hungry, their nests are so bare. All it takes is tuppence from you."