This reflection also appears as the second reading in our "Living Love: Daily Meditations for the Season of Advent 2012." You can view or download our Advent Booklet on your mobile device or PC at www.LivingCompass.org/Advent2012.iml. I have seen several different productions of "A Christmas Carol" throughout the years, and one of the things I enjoy is seeing how the three Christmas ghosts (past, present, and future) are portrayed by the different directors. There is plenty of room for creative expression when it comes to creating the characters of the ghosts, and each time I've seen "A Christmas Carol" the ghosts seem to get bigger and more frightening.
You and I are the directors of our own Christmas stories each year, and we too, are allowed plenty of creative expression when it comes to how we will cast the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future.
We are each visited by the ghosts of "Christmas past" this time of year. Wonderful memories of Christmases past fill our hearts and are often accompanied by sadness as we realize what has passed and will never be again. Our grief, of course, goes hand and hand with our gratitude for what has been. "Christmas past" also fills us with joyful memories, especially when we reflect back to the magic of Christmas when we were children. If we are not mindful, any grief that visits us from "Christmas past" may also cause us to worry excessively about "Christmas future." We may worry that Christmas will "never be the same again". We may find ourselves having a hard time enjoying the holiday season this year because we are so focused on how "this is probably the last Christmas that...." Grieving over the past or worrying about the future are places where any of us can get stuck.
The key to not getting stuck in the past or the future is to fully embrace "Christmas present." We do this by "loving what is," by fully entering into the delight--and perhaps the challenges--that this Christmas means for us. Our faith assures us that God's Love is equally present in the best of times and the hardest of times, and isn't that after all what the celebration of Christmas is all about? I overhead a person say, "I'm the one in our family who is responsible for making Christmas happen." I understand what they meant by that, but if they take that too literally, they are vulnerable to exhausting themselves and those around them. We are all wise to remember who is truly responsible for making Christmas happen, and trust that this power, this presence, is what allows us to relax and receive the gift that is Christmas present this year.