Many of us know by heart, the visitation of three spirits to Charles Dickens’s Scrooge—the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Each year I time-travel in reverse, as I recall our Christmases Past.
The above-pictured familiar drama was performed by three of our children—Laura, Debbie, and Eric—circa 1963. Other memorable Christmases include: 1) the time when some cars failed to start due to sub zero outdoor readings, and the few cars still running shuttled back and forth between homes— bringing family members to our large gathering; 2) poignant Christmases underscored by the loss of loved ones; 3) an ethnic-flavored Christmas when a Swedish friend brought her children, each bearing a battery candle, to our door in celebration of St. Lucia’s Day—the oldest daughter enacting Lucia; 4) and a fair number of Christmas seasons when nearly everyone threw up.
There was a Christmas when we were especially pinched financially, and I made each child (we had our first five, then) a stuffed animal pillow from pre-printed fabric detailed and shaped like the animal it represented. The animal I recall most vividly was Eric’s gorilla, because Eric was attached to his pillow for years. The other gifts that year (an additional two for each child) were necessary clothing items—hats, mittens, or a sweater.
It was a thoroughly blessed and joyous Christmas! We had good food, a warm home, warm beds, and each other! Our family’s happiness never centered around possessions or the lack of them, but rather on the fun of just being together.
Recent Christmases Past featured: 1) the up-north years, when we came to Southern Wisconsin to visit our family members here and stayed in a neighborhood motel with a lovely warm pool; and 2) that “famous-in-our-family” Christmas of 2010, when both Joe and I had major surgery on December 23rd and spent our Christmas in hospital rooms next door to one another—an accommodation kindly arranged by one of our surgeons.
Joe had a muscle graft over a 4th degree burn, and was not allowed out of bed, whereas my surgery required that I get up and exercise as much as I could. So several times a day I shuffled next door with my “dancing partner”—the IV pole—to visit my love. Our hospital Christmas was indeed special, because of opportunities to share with hospital personnel the WONDERFUL REASON for my peace and joy—serious health issues notwithstanding.
Now in 2012, Christmas Present once again presents a health challenge which in no way detracts from the wonder of the fact that our Lord took on human flesh and came to live among us. Again I testify that a challenge actually augments the wonder of it all. Because Christ died to save us, and conquered death to give us eternal life, we can experience irrevocable victory over whatever may be happening around us—or in our bodies.
All of this leads to the fact that Christmas is only part of the story. Christmas culminates in Calvary and Resurrection. And there’s more wonder yet to come—when our Lord returns to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will return, perhaps in the year of a not-too-distant Christmas Future.