I randomly grabbed a bottle of hand cream after soaking my hands in a sink full of dishes and began to slather it on my hands. I was immediately transported to a time in my past as the aroma of the cream my mother used most of her life drifted in the air. Our memories are often brought to the surface by our senses--be it smell, taste, feel, sound, or sight. I never see a pond surrounded by a green pasture that I don't remember the pond beside the house of my childhood home. The scene touches my sense of sight, my sense of smell of the smell of the green grass surrounding the pond, my sense of sound of the frogs as they sang their nightly serenade, and the remembrance of the feel of warm spring water which filled the pond to overflowing. As those memories are brought to the surface, the ghosts of my past also come for a visit. No I do not believe in ghosts, but yes, I do believe in the eternal presence of the memories of my loved ones. My memories can conjure up thoughts so vivid one might wonder if a ghost had paid me a visit.
Christmas does not come without viewing one of the multiple versions of "The Scrooge". Poor Ebenezer visited by not one, but three ghosts in the same night. Someone should have warned him about eating after seven. We all know he was an old man--because all of us old people have sleep issues. The one downfall in taking melatonin is the weirdo dreams it sometimes creates.
There are those, who have gone from this world, who I would love to have one more conversation. My daddy, my mother, relatives, and many friends I would so love to sit and chat with one more time. To ask them questions, to get their opinions, to hear their voice--if only. But this cannot happen, as much as I want it, we are unable to communicate with those who are gone on.
As I remember the ghosts of Christmas Past, the vast majority of my memories are beautiful--even sacred. The sweet innocent years of my childhood, those wonderful years of watching my own children grow up, and now I have the opportunity to see it all again through the eyes of my grands. Those sweet occasions with family and friends which often came with the holidays are a wonderful dream like memory of joy and laughter. The memory of candlelight, Christmas tree light, and the glow of the decorations as I turned down the drive tickle my thoughts. The scent of cookies in the oven, hot apple cider on the stove, and a live tree in the den are all stored away are a hosts of smells associated with the day.. Carols sung by candlelight as we celebrated the birth of a king, Christmas pageants and plays, and parades with Jingle Bells played by the school band are ever present in the vault of stored memories. The Christmas's past are precious memories nothing can take away. For the past is history--and not to be relived or revisited --except in our dreams.
There are Christmas's from the past which are best left in the past. Memories which replay pain and suffering. Memories of Christmas's without precious loved ones, Christmas's when precious friends left us, memories of loneliness, sadness and distress. Memories of a Christmas of illness, empty seats, and broken traditions. Ghosts better left in the past.
One Christmas long ago, the first Christmas, we are told the story of the couple who traveled by donkey a long way while expecting a child any day. The scene was not perfection--the scene began in desperation--NO ROOM---Baby coming--and no one with a lick of compassion. God provides---a stable--filled with the strong smell of animals--itchy hay for a bed--and the pangs of childbirth. In pain and terror, the young girl must have wondered--Why Me? Then it is done--the baby is born with all the sights and sounds of childbirth-it can be a messy business. The mother rests holding her baby who is wrapped in a makeshift blanket relieved the work is done. Then the star grows bright, angels fill the sky singing loud praises, and shepherds appear with their flock of sheep. It is a night filled with the sights, sounds, smells, and touches of wonder. The wonder of the birth of a king---God's gift to mankind---the Prince of Peace.
The ghosts of Christmas past are all around us--they are part and parcel of who we are. Those ghosts--or memories are what advent is all about. The memory of Christmas's past lead us to the great anticipation of Christmas present. The ghosts of Christmas past live in the wonder of Christmas present, as we celebrate--we remember.