Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Christmas Carol

This Christmas I was visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future (metaphorically speaking of course.)

Past showed me a warm home with flavorful smells and cheerful music dancing through the air. I saw a little towheaded girl who believed in magic and was full of wonder at all the little things the holiday brings. I was reminded of a young tight-knit family who sat together and read the story of the birth of Christ in the Bible as they lit a candle on the advent wreath. Then they knelt in a circle and prayed, together as one happy family unit.

I watched, as if it were a movie, my brother and I huddled together under a blanket on Christmas Eve night on the top bunk bed. I held the flashlight and he drew out our plan of how this would be the year that we captured Santa Claus. If either of us had any inkling that he wasn't real, we didn't say a word to the other. It was too much fun to pretend. Too much fun to believe.

On Christmas morning we tore open our stockings full of gifts that had magically appeared at the foot of our beds. We played show and tell with our presents and then unable to sleep anymore, we turned on the old TV in his bedroom and tried to find sense in the static until mom and dad led the way for us to see the Christmas tree.

But we weren't looking at the Christmas tree. We were mesmerized by what lay beneath. Dozens and dozens of brightly colored packages adorned with beautiful bows were displayed neatly underneath the tree, each one labeled with the recipients name.

I watched each past Christmas year in fast forward. It didn't matter what the packages held once the wrapping was uncovered, it was always something that we wanted, that we couldn't buy on our own. And every year was the same. Happiness. Togetherness. Family.

Present let me see a young woman who would be pretty if it weren't for her constantly furrowed brow. She rushed from store to store spending money she didn't have and still never feeling content with the gifts she purchased.

She frequently reminded her husband to buy presents for her, only the right presents would do. There was music. The house had heat. She baked. But it was not the warm festive home of Christmas past.

There was no magic.

Future refused to show me anything, but helped me see my options. He reminded me of the differences between past and present with one final flash. He didn't say anything. But through his silence I could see that if I didn't focus on the happiness, togetherness and family, I wouldn't ever again find the magic.

I dream that my future Christmases will hold a warm home filled with giddy children who believe. I dream that the opened gifts won't matter. I hope that the focus will be about being together in a home built on a foundation of love and understanding.

Whether my children believe in Santa or not, I hope that they will find wonder and awe in the little things.

I hope they'll believe in magic.

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