The hero is down on his luck. Maybe he needs money. Maybe he needs to be able to cure his little sister of her mysterious illness.
Maybe he wants to be reunited with a long-lost relative.
To make things even crueler, it's that time of year, the time when he should be happy and enjoying the holidays with everyone else.
But hey, it's Christmas, right? Something
has to go through.
Basically, a Christmas Miracle
is when some highly unlikely swoop of good fortune
comes to the characters in the time where they need it most,
simply through the magic of Christmas. May be implied to be an actual miracle
, and character implied not to be entirely human
- "The Elves and the Cobbler", by The Brothers Grimm.
- It's A Wonderful Life (and all the variations thereof)
- Parodied in Hogfather where Death saves Christmas. Also, the many side-plots deal with the theme, like a king taking a hearty Hogswatch meal to a peasant only to have the peasant shocked because he already had prepared some and would have to throw it away, because the food brought to him wouldn't preserve. But Death did save the Little Match Girl to play it straight.
- In Jingle All the Way, the dad walks through fire and hell to get his son a Turbo Man action figure. But little did he know that he somehow would end up in a Turbo Man rubber suit complete with jetpack. His son thinks this is more than enough.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it snows in Sunnydale, California after a forecast of sunny with temperatures in the high 70s Fahrenheit. Why? Because Buffy was trying to convince Angel not to kill himself by sunlight, and they needed a Christmas Miracle to save him from death-by-sunlight. This on a show with Devil but No God.
- Of course, years later it's revealed a prime candidate for who saved him was Jasmine whose motives were hardly purely benevolent.
- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was no stranger to sappy episodes, but interestingly enough averted this trope in "Season of Miracles", where the Reverend is blinded right before Christmas, the entire town prays for his recovery, Brian tells everyone to believe in miracles... and the Reverend stays blind. Yeah, they manage to get a moral in about accepting your fate, but still.
- Tokyo Godfathers starts with three homeless people finding an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve and deciding to try and find the parents. It ends with the baby returned to its grateful parents, the three main characters reuniting with their estranged families and in possession of a winning lotto ticket. The movie also makes none too subtle implications that at least one of the events was an actual miracle.
- Annie is set at Christmas in order to invoke this trope (surprisingly, the 1982 movie dropped that element).
- Touched by an Angel Christmas episodes sometimes had these. The first, Season One's "Fear Not!", was actually retitled A Christmas Miracle when it was adapted into a picture book, and its aftermath was examined in Season Two's "The Feather".
- From folklore, there's Saint Nicholas throwing the bag of gold into the stockings of three poor girls.
- On The Brady Bunch, Cindy asks a department store Santa Claus to restore Carol's voice, so that she can sing the Christmas solo in church. Mike is disturbed by the fact that she received the man's promise that it would happen, but sure enough, Carol is able to sing on Christmas morning. This is recalled years later in the reunion special A Very Brady Christmas, and the family sings that same carol while waiting for Mike to escape from a building on the verge of collapse. It Makes Sense in Context...sort of.
- This is the implication of the Narmy song (and TV movie it inspired) The Christmas Shoes.
- This happens in the Tom and Jerry Christmas Special (an adaptation of The Nutcracker) when a mysterious magic (possibly caused by Santa Claus, who shows up later as "The Toymaker") grants Jerry's wish of participating in a (real) version of the story. Too bad the magic "couldn't tell friend from foe" and brought Tom (and several other alleycats) along as well...
- In the remake of Miracle on 34th Street, Susan tells Santa that what she really wants is a house, a father, and a brother. By Christmas morning, her mother has remarried, they've moved to a beautiful house, and Mom is quite possibly pregnant. The trope is averted slightly, in that she doesn't tell Santa these things with the expectation that he'll provide them (because at that point, she isn't completely sure he is who he says he is).
- The "Christmas Truce" from the first World War must surely qualify - in the middle of the most blood soaked, hopeless and futile conflict imaginable, both sides started decorating their hellish, rat-infested trenches with candles and Christmas trees. Soon after, both sides started singing Christmas carols, and eventually the artillery stopped and soldiers that only the previous day were trying to kill each other crossed the lines and exchanged gifts with their opponents! Of course, the generals (safe and sound, far from the nightmare of the front) were pissed about this to say the least, and issued orders to ensure that the trenches would be intentionally bombarded harder next year... They were shelled, alright - in specific times and places so the other guys could stay clear of the attack!
- Hallie in All I Want for Christmas wanted one, even though she and her brother made the miracle happen themselves.
- In Glee, Britney asked Santa to make Artie walk. Not wanting to ruin her continued belief in Santa, the Glee clubbers ask Bieste to impersonate Santa and break the news to her that such a thing wasn't possible. In end, however,Bieste secretly gave Britney a pair of robotic leg braces that help Artie to walk for brief periods. The Glee club had no idea, and assumed it was a true Christmas miracle.
- Spoofed in the Homestar Runner cartoon A Decemberween Mackerel, where Marzipan thinks Senor Cardgage is dying, and also thinks that "cramming him with enough holiday cheer" will bring about a life-saving Decemberween miracle.
- While Doctor Who Christmas specials tend to result in death, one way or another, the 2011 one "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardobe" gave a rare Everybody Lives by saving the father who "died" at the beginning.
- Subverted by the Modern Family fourth-season Christmas episode "The Old Man and the Tree". When Cameron hears that no gifts are available for the attendees at the Christmas event for the needy that he inadvertently took Lilly to, he grabs the ones that Mitchell has bought for Pepper's "The 12 Gays of Christmas" party the couple plan to attend that evening. They are spectacularly ill-suited to the occasion.