The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

The Ghost of Christmas Future

 

December 22, 2021



I’m sure we all would love to give the Ghost Of Christmas Future a script. We all have an idea of how we want future Christmases to go. Some would hope for a little more money to be able to give their children more gifts at Christmas. Some just hope for enough money that they can enjoy Christmas without worrying about money for rent or groceries. Some, like myself, really hope they can spend Christmas with their family once more.

In " A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, Scrooge is not the best of people in Christmas Present. The Ghost of his Christmas future shows and tells him what will happen if he doesn’t change his ways. His end is disastrous. Seeing that gave him the impetus to change and become a better person. Most of us do not need to change to Scrooge’s extent. However, on reflection, maybe we all can change to ensure our Christmas Future is better for us and those around us.

I have experienced quite a few Christmases in my time, and no, I will not say just how many. Because of my pretty vast experience at Christmas, I have found some things I needed to change, and maybe they might apply to you. Who knows? Cut back your outside activities. Christmas should be enjoyed slowly, not at breakneck speed. I used to have a list and race from one meeting or event with a frantic check; that’s done. At the same time, I was "making Christmas" at home. I went faster at Christmas than at any other time of the year. I was competitive. Had someone decorated their tree on December 1? Well, dash it all, dash it all, mine had to be up until December 2. Someone had two couples over for drinks and appetizers? I had a come-and-go all Christmas Eve afternoon. At least forty people with a myriad of things to eat and drink, the house decorated to within an inch of its life, and children all dressed up. Oh, and I mustn’t forget my Christmas sweater. I would slave for days before, be the energizer bunny all afternoon, rush to church with the costumes for the nativity play.

Rush home to settle children in bed with not one but three Christmas stories I read every year. Then it was wrapping. I hate wrapping with a passion, and what with everything else going on, I would leave it till the last minute—wrapping till two AM as usual. I had boxes with stocking stuffers for each child and would line the stockings up on the floor and jam in the contents of each box. I went to bed not relaxed but wondering, did I forget something?? Christmas day was spent at home till around four when we would drive to my parent’s house for the big meal. In later years, when my dad was gone, I would run over to my mother’s at noon, peel potatoes, and get the turkey in the oven for her. I would return for the meal later with my additions to the feast. The day after Christmas, what we in Canada call Boxing Day, was when I collapsed.

In retrospect, I would organize differently. I wouldn’t care so much if my house was decorated as well as so and so’s, or how many people I entertained. I would simplify!. I have seen women bent on making not one pie of choice for Christmas but three. There they would be, working away while everyone else was relaxed and enjoying themselves. I find women tend to set impossible goals for themselves. Most want the best Christmas for their family. There is nothing wrong with that, but do take time to see what this is doing to enjoy your Christmas. No one will die if you have just apple pie or just a turkey and not a turkey and ham. Cut back where you need. Give yourself some slack. Hate wrapping like me? Ask a friend or relative to help and have a good visit over cookies and wrapping. Notice I always include food? Want to get together with friends? Suggest a potluck, whether a meal or appetizers. Don’t try to do it yourself as I used to; if you have children, make time for downtime. There are no goals, just enjoying a movie together, making a snowman, stringing popcorn and cranberries for the tree, etc. When you get down to it, being with your family and friends is what makes a good Christmas, not any of the trimmings.

Men are just as bad in another way. I have known men who spend more time with their friends than their families. Friends are all well and good, but family should be your priority. Men also tend to work to "just finish" this or that. Over the years, I have seen men miss so much of Christmas with their children due to their ties to work. Prioritize. Yes, you need to work to put food on the table, but you can cut bits of time out of each day to do something with your family at Christmas. What exactly are you working so hard if you can’t do that? No time machine will let you go back in time. You reap what you sow. Put your family on the back burner at Christmas, and don’t be surprised if your Christmas Future shows your children not making you a priority. The Ghost of Christmas Future is watching you!

I’m sure we each have a list of things we hope for in Christmas Future. At the top probably, is the hope that everyone will be together this Christmas will be together next Christmas or, as in my case, you will be able to spend time with your family. We hope for enough prosperity to relax at Christmas and not have money worries weigh us down. We hope for healthy children in the future. We hope old friends stay close and the emergence of new friends to celebrate Christmas next year. I, and I’m sure others, hope that more families will return to churches. I want what I have and had for them, the true meaning and celebration of Christmas with my family that is at the core of your Christmas. Trees, presents, and Jingle Bells are the fluff of Christmas, not the substance. I dread the thought of the Ghost of Christmas Future showing empty, closed churches.

Not long ago, I knew a mother and little boy. The mother had her good points but was not a Christian and showed contempt towards churches. She thought it was funny to tell me that her son had asked her if they were Christians the other day. She asked him, " Do you like Christmas?" Of course, he answered yes. His mother said, " well, then you’re a Christian." I wish now I had spoken up, but she and I had a complicated relationship. I helped support her and her son and was concerned that setting her right, even if kindly, that it might hamper that. It is one of my regrets. Unless she changes, I see her Christmas Future as full of fluff and devoid of meaning.

So, The Ghost of Christmas Future is complicated. Some aspects are beyond our control, but fortunately, some things we can control. We can make family and friends our priority. We can be aware of our personal needs for a fulfilling and meaningful Christmas. We can choose to reach out to someone and include them in our circle of Christmas joy. When we have those goals in place, I feel very optimistic that our Ghosts of Christmas Future will smile and show us the bright future we all hope to have.

 
 

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