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Rated: E · Essay · Holiday · #2179471
A Christmas Message...
It has always seemed to me to be a singularly peculiar thing that this time each year, in the space of a few short weeks and on two distinct occasions, the human heart undergoes a metamorphosis...the effects of each being polar opposites. The first usually begins on Thanksgiving afternoon shortly after the last scrap of turkey has been consumed and the dishes all washed and put away. Whatever your age, be it 1 or 101, the anticipation begins to build as the annual rite plays out...it's time to decorate the Christmas tree. Across the land, in sprawling cities and tiny burgs, in palatial houses and cramped apartments, boxes of every size and shape bearing the single word 'Christmas' are lowered from attics, fished from basements, or wrestled from closets and garage storerooms, dusted off and haphazardly stacked in disarray around the tree. And as we open each box, the ornaments are joyfully welcomed back like old friends who have just returned from extended, faraway journeys...for they bear the honey-sweet weight of deep, significant time-markers in our lives. They are the ghosts of Christmas past, resurrected from tissue paper and come alive again on the living room floor. Glistening in the evening firelight, they beckon us, "come...and remember." And we do. There's one from the year a precious child was born. Another carries the loneliness, still, of the first year after we moved away from family. That one...the bittersweet memory of a loved one lost long ago, but ever dear to us. The memories wash over us like a warm ocean wave and inundate us with the past. And we are children again...our hearts as soft and malleable as Play-Doh...

And thus we joyfully venture into the season, with 'Merry Christmas' in our hearts and on our lips. We are kinder to strangers. It is a time, to loosely quote the stark eloquence of Dickens, "When men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys." We slow down and let someone move ahead of us whether at the market or on the road; to hurry this precious time seems obscenely absurd. We give the frozen man stoically holding the cardboard sign all our loose change and a bit more without cynically wondering if he really needs it or how he will spend it. We feel the loneliness of an insecure child whose name hangs silently pleading from an Angel Tree...and in our hearts we lovingly wrap our arms around each one and whisper soft words of comfort as we offer up our humble charity. Yes, Virginia...there IS a Santa Claus. And it truly is A Wonderful Life...

And quite suddenly...Christmas is over. The 'Holiday Hangover' is instantly and fully upon us and the second metamorphosis begins. The treasured ornaments have curiously become a gaudy inconvenience in the narcotic routine of our daily lives, and so we hurried pack them away and meticulously vacuum up every last pine needle. And in our rush to hide them away for another year, we unmindfully pack away the joy of the season, as well, before dully settling in to watch another meaningless bowl game...or hurrying off to another urgent 'After Christmas Sale.' We pick up the dark cloak of mistrust and silly posturing we so happily dropped by the roadside such a short time ago, and with a heavy sigh, we dutifully shrug it back on. We are all grown up again. Such an annual foolishment...

This year...and for all the ensuing years God gives us to walk this terrestrial ball, let us vow that it will be otherwise. In your innermost self, keep the Christmas tree firmly on its stand as a symbol of the Eternal Hope we have been promised. String up the lights in every crease and corner of your heart and allow their soft glow to light up your face in pure joy to a cynical, bah-humbug world. Hang the holly wreath smack dab in the middle of your soul and praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Let your imagination take up a second residence in the magical village of 'Whoville', and whenever the cold, rough edges of life begin to callous your heart...go there. Lustily bang the gar-dinkers and slam the who-wunkers. Happily join in a game of zoo-zinger-car-zay and play until you are breathless and your cheeks are glowing. And, once again...you have the heart of a child...

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