Rev. Scott's Christmas Carol
I have always found Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol to be a story I can relate to. It is a story of redemption during Christmas, also known as the Season of Love. I have identified with the feeling of BAH HUMBUG at different times of my life, and I also admired the plot's use of the three Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future as motivators for Scrooge to turn his life around. So, my relationship with the Holiday Season can be seen from three different perspectives. The changes I experienced between these eras of my life were motivated by feelings that seemed to have the touch of the Spirit on them.
As a child, even my earliest memories of Christmas Day stood out enough that I remember them all the way back to three years old. The earliest Christmas was in Fairbanks, Alaska, where we had been relocated to from Valdez, Alaska, after the tidal wave decimated the town. The emergency housing that we lived in was a trailer that had no insulation in the walls, and so my Christmas memory is this strange sight of a Christmas Tree covered in tinsel, while the walls behind it are covered in real ice, and there is an electric heater nearby with its red blazing heating coils. The following year was in Anchorage, Alaska, and it was marred by a sledding accident where I took the sled that was my Christmas Present and immediately crashed it headfirst into a tree. Year five was in Kenai, Alaska. It was the beginning of the unraveling of my parent's marriage, so having been caught peeking at my present under the bed escalated into an episode of biblical proportions. Year six was in Willisville, Arkansas, which ushered in the explosive end of my parent's marriage. They say that your impressions from your earliest years color your perception of things. It made Christmas something I never got overly excited about, and there was always a tinge of trepidation in my feelings toward it.
My younger adult years turned a corner. I moved out of the house when I was seventeen, and now that I had control of what I was doing and who I was with, I had much better Christmas Days. That first Christmas I spent alone, and while many would think that was so sad, I don't remember being sad. I remember feeling free! The Spirit of Childhood Christmas definitely had a hand in this. It motivated me to move out on my own, and it prepared me to be ready to do it. In many ways, Christmas was redeemed in my eyes by this simple act of being able to control my own experience of the Holiday. The lesson in this is that I had thought I was a victim, and by taking control of my circumstances, Life started to create for me.
As I got older, I ended up in an eleven-year relationship with a man whose family lived in the Fresno region. I was living in Los Angeles by this time, and my mother eventually moved to the area. Our tradition was that I went with him on Thanksgiving and stayed home to be with my mother on Christmas. Once I was out of college, I started taking mom on Christmas trips. We went to places like San Francisco and Las Vegas. These trips were always an ordeal because, at this time of my life, I had a lot of rage toward my mother that was mainly buried deep inside me. The worst of these trips was a cruise to Ensenada, where that vast cruise ship kept shrinking in my mind until it felt like a small power boat that was too small for me ever to get away from my mother.
The Spirit of Young Adult Christmas also changed this phase of my life. I eventually understood that my relationship with my mother was of my own making. What a concept! My anger was based on the past, projected into the future, and rebounded into the present. If I wanted it to stop, I had to forgive her and take back my life. But, again, Spirit had stepped in to save me from myself and liberate me so that I could live in each moment. What a gift.
Since then, I have adopted three boys, raised them into adulthood, and experienced Christmas Days that are pretty happy, and I have been able to separate today from the past. I feel free at Christmas, rather than being chained down like Marley's ghost. I am waiting for that third spirit to show up. This time it will be the Spirit of Retirement Christmas. I am looking forward to what this Spirit has to tell me. If there is any pattern in the two earlier Spirits, it is one of greater freedom in my life. I look forward to that freedom, knowing it will be a great Christmas Present to my soul.