Standing in a parking lot while my girlfriend is doing some Christmas shopping, I find myself taking inventory of Christmases past. Into my mind fly memories of snow, cold, and cheer. Standing here watching these internal movies, I find that each recollection has its own sweetness or bitterness. To revisit these memories is like walking away from this reality and going back to what was once present and familiar.

On this December night all the other Christmas nights of my life come alive again. Twenty-thirteen has been an eventful year, full of excitement both good and bad. This year is now almost completely gone, and I’m feeling hopeful about 2014. What will it bring me? It stretches before me in imagination like some great vision, a vision filled with awe of the unfamiliar. I see a year that can be friendly or unkind or a combination thereof. But I don’t fret or dread it. I welcome it. If anything is consistent in life, of course, it’s change, and I see that 2014 will be a year of change.

Thinking about Decembers past, I focus on the friendships that warm me like cozy fires kindled by family members and friends of yesterday. As I stand here in the parking lot, quietly reminiscing, I hear the echoes of those voices that in earlier days meant a lot to me. I hear the voices of friends and family members who have passed on from this world. When I close my eyes, I can see their smiles, hear their voices. And I smile. I also think about those living whom I’ve not seen in a long time, and to them I offer a wish of good health and fortune for the holiday season and the coming year. I understand that the pathways of my past have brought me to this point in my life, and I release a breath of gratitude. I’m thankful to have known some truly special people in my time.

And so it is now the Christmas season of 2013. These nights, the stores are filled with anxious and aggressive shoppers pushing, and grabbing up merchandise. Selfishly, uncompromisingly, they are going about the holiday with little thought about the infant laid in a manger or the shining angels that appeared to the shepherds or the miraculous star that took its station in the sky. It’s a story that all Christians are familiar with, the one that deals simply with the goodness of the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the story of God’s gift of charity to mankind. Deeper than the pushing, shoving and shopping I can see that Christmas glows in the faces around me in their friendly smiles. I see good people hugging their families and friends.

Somewhere I hear “Peace on Earth and good will toward men,” which is an optimistic prayer that wars and rivalries may vex the nation no more, not only on Christmas, but the whole year ’round.

The 25th of December is a great day. It’s a day that many look forward to with hope and gratitude. In the Good Book, we find Isaiah standing on the peaks of prophecy, looking across ruined empires and seeing a new star rise above the horizon. Further in the past, before events recorded in the Bible, we find the pagans whose deities filled the heavens and who rejoiced in the harvest festival from December 17th to January 3rd. In the midst of their merrymaking came December 25th and the ceremony honoring the birth of Mithra. For me, no matter the belief, winter is the season to make merry and be grateful for what we have.

Time moves forward, and it’s getting late. Soon the lights in the great shopping malls will go out and the empty stores will be left to the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. Here where I live, the temperature is dropping, and I can see my breath now. I look up to the sparkling heavens. There’s the Milky Way in its powdery grandeur, there are stars and planets shining peacefully in their black spaces, and I think that in a few days, there will be one Christmas less between my grave and me. Not a dreadful thought, but a natural one.

I think of the year to come and I wonder if it’s possible for the people who hold high places in government to be the ones who lead us into the New Year properly. Could they cast us a new reality, one that is heaped high with happiness and the good for mankind? Is it even possible for mankind to live in balance on Mother Earth; to love and not hate, to live and not obliterate?

It would be nice to wake up at the end of this year and find that this Christmas had created a lovely, loving memory that will last the whole year. That’s what I wish.

May Your Spirit Grow!

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Ra Lynn LoneWalker