A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is set in 19th century London. In this story, the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge was visited on Christmas Eve by three ghosts (in modern times, they would more likely be called spirits): the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. After these ghosts showed him various moments in his past, in the present time, and in the possible future, Scrooge is overwhelmed with regret over how he has become a selfish, unkind man and transforms into a caring and generous one.
As I finish my traditional Christmas read, I ask myself, “If I were to be visited by the three Ghosts of Christmas, what would they show me?”
The Ghost of Christmas Past might show me this:
My brothers, sister and I are in our pajamas on Christmas morning, checking our stockings and underneath the tree for Santa’s gifts. Our parents are sitting nearby as we excitedly open presents. I give Mom and Dad my handmade greeting card, decorated with a crayon drawing of a Christmas tree. While still in our comfy pajamas, we enjoy breakfast together before it’s time to get dressed for Christmas Day mass.
The Ghost of Christmas Present might show me this:
Some weeks before Christmas, my daughter tells me that Christmas doesn’t feel as exciting as it used to be. She says that it felt more exciting years back when we were living abroad and traveled to Manila every December for the holidays. The anticipation and preparation for the trip, the back-to-back get-togethers with relatives and friends in Manila, the visits to shops and restaurants we miss when we are abroad – all of these make for an exciting annual holiday celebration.
A few days before Christmas, my son tells me that he wishes Christmas Eve this year would be more fun and exciting than the previous one. He says he is hoping for more than the usual playing of video games with cousins and sitting around the dining table before the gift giving at midnight. He is hoping for a new, fun and meaningful way to celebrate Christmas.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come might show me this:
On Christmas Eve, the children are playing Christmas-themed games. At gift-giving time, we exchange handmade Christmas cards. We bring out our Gratitude Jars and remember the wonderful blessings and favorite memories of the past year. We listen or sing along to Christmas carols. We say a prayer of thanksgiving for the shared joy of the season.
What these possible scenes from my Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come are telling me is this – We can and should find ways to make Christmas meaningful. We can make new traditions, new celebrations that will make the Christmas spirit of love, peace and giving real to us. With the help of family and friends, we can make the season purposeful and meaningful, and ultimately a truly joyful Christmas.
How about you? What would the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come show you?