Once again life drug me through the calendar pages of another year in a paradoxical dance with time where days drag endlessly, yet years pass all too quickly. I survived the triggers of Thanksgiving only to find myself reluctantly propelled into the clamor of Christmas with no regard to the induced weariness of the emotional roller coaster I didn’t ask to ride. What am I to do with this holiday that casts people into festivity and spirits into merriment?
Each year I long for it to be easier, for the gaiety of the season to displace the gloom. Yet, time offers me no favors and so, once again, I unlock the attic and lug down boxes that contain the wrappings that will deck our halls. I paint myself happy and dutifully set into motion the performance we call Christmas because it isn’t about me. My younger children are not held captive by the disturbance of memories. They don’t realize that I have a box that I will only open when no one else is home. The box that contains years of pictures with Santa in which childhood fantasies and wishes sparkled in bright blue eyes. The box that carefully houses ornaments crafted by small hands that once held mine. A box that lets loose beautiful and unique memories gone too soon. A box that holds the haunts of Christmas Past.
Why does Christmas besiege me? Why am I haunted by the ghosts of Christmases past? The answer is simple and yet, so complex. Love. I loved deeply; I still love deeply, and I always will love deeply that little boy who made me a mother and who gave me a deeper understanding of the meaning of Christmas – hope revealed. I must not regard Christmas through its wrapping of paper, tinsel and garland. It can’t be found under a tree. Love is the gift that was wrapped in a swaddling cloth. It was the Gift that unwrapped the cloth that shrouded Him in death to reveal hope. Love is what gives strength to my afflicted heart and brings my faith out of hiding.
I close the box. I can’t yet bring myself to hang the memories on the tree. Maybe someday. For now, I will wipe away my tears. I will strive to quell the wistful longings of the Ghost of Christmas Past. I will let the tenderness of the past give me courage for the present. I will wrap myself in a blanket woven by nostalgia and choose Hope.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons they teach.” – Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”