[dropcap]A[/dropcap]nd another Christmas is gone.
I have a vague memory of being at my Granny’s and PawPaw’s house on a Christmas day. We had driven over from my Nana’s and Granddaddy’s house, which was not unusual. We spent many a Christmas away from our own house.
My cousins and I, in this memory, are bundled up, running through the side yard, beside the big propane tank. It is a brief memory all told, but I remember the thought, “Christmas day is lasting a long time!”
I would have been about 10. Forty years, and forty Christmases ago.
The day following that Christmas I thought, “Christmas was only yesterday!” The glow and warmth of childhood expectations met was still warm and sweet. Then the next day, then the next, soon it was the new year. Another week and it was as if Christmas never happened at all. All that was left were the things, the memories, and, for Santa, the expense.
Hit repeat annually.
A few months after those precious December days the countdown starts all over again.
For many in this world, including me, Christmas is a single day representing the promise of all days: work without labor, laughter without guilt, merriment without excess, feasting without obesity, generosity without limit, peace without prospect of war, and singularly focused worship.
I think such is why my youthful thoughts recur, “Christmas day lasts a long time! I wish every day were like this day! It is only one day past Christmas; it was only yesterday!”
It seems in the second half of my life Christmas represents the hope of a specific future as much as a birthday past. To be sure such a future is firmly settled on that past–the two are thoroughly, eternally entwined. The annual celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth is marked with anticipation as much as memory, for me at least.
Maybe it is the memory of a future hope.
The morn after Christmas and the morn after that, the lessening glow the slow return to “normal” should not dampen that future hope. Why are there, to paraphrase N.T. Wright, echoes of a world none of us have ever seen with out eyes? Are these false memories implanted by purposeless chance? Perhaps. But, unlikely.
The promise of Christmas is the promise of a future kingdom wherein the righteous of Jesus dwells. The past promises a future, and that future fulfills it completely. I have the memory of a future hope and it recurs the morn after Christmas.