"White Christmas" and the Peace of Counting Your Blessings

Jaclyn Tarman
White Christmas and the Peace of Counting Your Blessings

White Christmas is one of my favorite movies to watch around the holidays each year. I have fond memories watching it with my family. We can almost quote the movie word-for-word, though I remember the words of the song, “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)”, most of all:  

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds

If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep
Counting your blessings

I think Irving Berlin was on to something when he wrote this song. It relates counting your blessings with falling asleep. In the book The Irving Berlin Reader, a letter from Berlin to a film executive reveals the meaning behind the song:

I’m enclosing a lyric of a song I finished here and which I am going to publish immediately…You have always said that I commercial my emotions and many times you were wrong, but this particular song is based on what really happened.

The story is in its verse, which I don’t think I’ll publish.  As I say in the lyrics, sometime ago, after the worst kind of a sleepless night, my doctor came to see me and after a lot of self-pity, belly-aching and complaining about my insomnia, he looked at me and said “speaking of doing something about insomnia, did you ever try counting your blessings?”

Whether insomnia, anxiety or pressures from everyday life, I believe counting one’s blessings helps instill peace. It made a difference in Berlin’s life. It has also encouraged my life and not just in the literal meaning of sleep. When I count my blessings and thank God for all He has done, I’ve found that my heart is more at rest. The busyness of life is stilled. In that peace, I’m more able to focus on God while everything else dims to the background.

Jesus Christ was born in the stillness of a winter’s night. When approached by the angels, the shepherds proclaimed “Glory to God in the Highest and peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14, NIV, emphasis mine). Later in Jesus’ life, he said to the disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV, emphasis mine). Jesus was born in peace and came to bring us peace. When I count my blessings each Christmas and all year long, I need to remember that Jesus and the peace He brings is the greatest blessing of all.

May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, be with you and your loved ones this Christmas.

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