“You have never seen the like of me before!” exclaimed the Spirit.
“Never,” Scrooge made answer to it.
“Have never walked forth with the younger members of my family; meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers born in these later years?” pursued the Phantom.
“I don’t think I have,” said Scrooge. “I am afraid I have not. Have you had many brothers, Spirit?”
“More than eighteen hundred,” said the Ghost.
– Scrooge’s Encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Present, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
None of us have walked with all of the previous ghosts, now numbering more than 2000. When you’re enmeshed in the fabric of life with children, it sometimes seems as though it will always remain the same – Santa Claus pictures, toys and after-bedtimes evenings spent wrapping and hiding. But step back and observe and you find that while the ghosts are very similar, they are subtly different over time until you realize that the being is entirely different; simpler, quieter and more genteel. This is the progression of Christmases as the kids age and move further into the outside world.
As the kids age, they take the commercial idea of a gift-wrapped, shiny Christmas and unknowingly burnish it to a marvelous core that really doesn’t require all of the accompanying bells and whistles. It’s a core composed of the elements of family and friends and if you believe, faith. Listen to the kids’ memories and you find that it usually isn’t the toy that’s remembered from any particular year so much as what happens with the toy afterwards, all of the memories that come from playing with it and frequently, with you. Take a moment to consider each ghost and examine it for what it is, then burn it into your memory alongside each of its siblings. It will make you appreciate what you have all of the more.
May you – and your family – have a wonderful Christmas season.