Yesterday I shared a story I found on ESPN. The message was clear. The outcome of giving is an investment toward hope. Hope for our future. Hope for better times. Hope for sharing in a joyous life. On this Christmas Eve that hope is somehow missing within the hollow expanse of my heart.
I recall the feelings I had for many of the Christmas Eves of my 46 years. Whether it was the magical qualities of the season we all experience as children or watching as a parent the same mysteries reflected in the eyes of my own little ones or the reunion of loved ones I haven’t seen in ages, the hope of good things to come rose above any worries or stresses at least for a day or two. I’m reaching way deep down today but for the first time in my life I can’t feel it. For the life of me I cannot wrap my arms around the hope that was never this elusive.
This little sadness became so very clear this morning. Jessie had a friend over last night and when they came down to the kitchen this morning they both were clearly intoxicated by the sounds, smells, aura, and anticipation this calendar day invokes within the hearts of girls their age. “Daddy, I can’t believe it’s Christmas Eve!” “Me neither, sweetheart. Me neither,” I muttered to myself while reluctantly squeezing out a half-smile. Bah humbug.
I have to hide the “bah humbugness” from her and Ben. It just isn’t fair to them…nay, it is my parental duty to keep my cynicism, my apprehension, my fears of the coming months from them. And I have to say it is extremely difficult to do when I am wondering how we’ll pay for the groceries next week. For them the Christmas spirit is still as real as the colorful lights twinkling through the Christmas tree branches. For me the Christmas spirit is like a star in the night sky. I know it is real but I cannot embrace it. And how I do want to embrace it.
Honestly I don’t want to play the part of Scrooge. Since our son was born I’ve fancied myself as Bob Cratchet and Ben as Tiny Tim. God bless us every one. There aren’t that many gifts under the tree but by God we’re all here and healthy. This year though I think those ghosts that troubled old Ebeneezer have had the opposite effect as they haunt the hope right out of me. And how selfish of me indeed – let’s dump a little more guilt on the poor soul, shall we Ghost of Christmas Present?
Perhaps tomorrow morning will bring a surprise just like the days of my youth. I want to think it will but the poltergeists continue to whisper thoughts otherwise. Regardless I will hug my wife and children. I will watch them unwrap the packages through the lens of a camera. I will smile back at them as they express their joy. And all the while I will continue my charade until the second day of Christmas - when comfort and joy have long been forgotten.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008