Christmas usually begins about the first time you see a yule themed commercial on television and something tugs at your heart....if only a little. Oh, we know it's the season that will determine whether Sears or Macy's or Target has a good sales year. Yet, we still toss aside the cynicism and get a thrill when we first step foot in the mall and spy that huge tree so gaily festive. As we plunge into the crowd of humanity, humming the last Christmas carol echoing through the mall, we quicken our step and begin the annual search for a gift that will please a dear one.
Maybe it is soft gray December skies, or wooly layers of pristine snow, but it seems to dampen all the raucous irritability of car horns, dogs barking or music blaring far too loud from a radio, not yours. Christmas is the wonderful season when we suspend our distrust for our fellow man, when we exchange smiles, and know they are genuine, and come from the heart. As we do so, we are giving the gift of tolerance of our fellows and sincerely wish for them the joy that has been yours for every Christmas of your life.
Christmas is more than the anticipation of Christmas dinner...it is the wondrous remembering of every Christmas dinner you've ever enjoyed, and always in the company of those who you treasure beyond all others. In those years, when we are especially blessed, it is the ritual reunion with family; when all the living experiences for the past year can be shared and savored....and a remembrance of Christmases past when the circle of family was much larger, the tapestry richer, before our dear ones passed to another world entirely.
And when the family cannot come together for Christmas, perhaps when we are most alone, Christmas is a time for stoking the memories of Christmases past, to fill the empty room, to warm the heart, when there are no hands to hold, or shoulders to hug, or cheek to kiss. That's the beauty of Christmas; the special season leaves memories so vivid, that when we need to, we can withdraw the joy of Christmases past, banked just for a time when you need Christmas joy more than ever.
And a bit of advice for the young; the old treasure Christmas surely as dearly as you do. For it is the old who appreciate how few are left for them. And, in appreciating the wonder of Christmas, the elderly will desperately reach out and grasp, and take hold of the most tenuous connection to the magic that is Christmas. They'll buy one of those little one foot pine trees and string a single strand of multi-colored lights around it, place half a dozen shiny orbs about the tree and set it gently on a low table, to be admired, to brighten one dark corner of a room notably empty and yearning for the companionship of other human hearts.
Those so very much alone will light a candle and say a silent prayer for those who have passed before them, for loved ones thousands of miles away, for our military who, at Christmas, offer even greater sacrifice, for the sick and sick at heart.
And when the darkness of Christmas eve begins to close in on them, they place light the candles to ward off the darkness, an affront to the forces that would rob them of hope, of joy, then sit back in the soft chair, then travel back through time, to a year when the vast wealth of family and friends graced their door and their table.
And they will hear the giggles of delight from children so long ago, as the snap and crackle of wrapping paper as little hands eagerly open their presents. The scent of a Douglas Pine will permeate throughout the senses, vying for attention from pumpkin and cinnamon emanating from the kitchen. And one is never, ever alone, and the bright memories of Christmases past will always ward off the darkness and the loneliness...that is the magic of Christmas.