This past year has been good, overall, but there’s been one too many trips to the ER for my taste. But thank God, literally, I’m still here and those issues apparently are resolved – stay tuned for further developments. (Like I could do something about it!)
There’s been a lot of music, merriment and adventures with plenty of travel opportunities in the mix for me since the last Christmas epistle. The players in this saga I call my life are much the same as last year but of course there are some who are no longer here to visit with – I miss them, I miss being able to call them up for a “chat and chew” and I miss them being here in my life.
Not inclined to go into a lot of specifics about the who and where, etc of these past twelve months but suffice it to say my life continues to be a journey of blessings and challenges – of joys and sorrows – in other words being fully alive to all that there is to this business of living. I hope you can say the same.
Here’s this year’s contribution …
Are You Missing Christmas?
The setting – Christmas Eve, Somewhere USA, a busy shopping mall, and there just outside the revolving doors of a department store a young man strums his guitar. He’s in his mid to late 30’s, bearded, long hair but far from scruffy – a kind of throwback to the hippies of the late 60’s. He starts to sing …
Let me ask you a question
Now take your time with your reply
Are you missing Christmas?
Have you let it pass you by?
About that time a middle aged man, carrying two bulging shopping bags comes out of the store. He’s almost to the curb when one of the bags splits open, spilling all the wrapped gifts on the sidewalk.
“Those expletive, expletive, expletive (fill in the curse words of your choice) bags aren’t worth a flying expletive. If they’re gonna sell you all this crap then they should make bags sturdy enough to hold it”. Stooping to pick up the gifts he continues to grimace and mutter.
Having put down his guitar, the young man walks over to the disgruntled shopper, “Can I help you with those?”
The man looks up with a scowl but upon seeing the sincere smile simply says, “Yeah, why not. I can’t quite manage this by myself. Guess I’ll have to go back into the exple …” Something stops him from continuing his tirade. Later on he would wonder what it was.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that, unless you want to. I can help you carry these to your car.”
Suspicion starts to creep into the shopper’s eyes. And he thinks “Uh, oh, better watch out this could be some kind of con or a set up or a … Then upon looking harder at this young hippie he reconsiders his objections. “Hell, he says to himself, I’m an ex-Marine I could take this kid down if I had to. Might as well take help where I can get it”.
“Okay, I can use an extra pair of hands. I have to warn you though the car is miles away. It was the only parking place I could find”.
The young man grins , “Not to worry, I’ve been standing in this one place so long, I can use the exercise.”
So they start out across the crowded parking lot, dodging holiday drivers, frantically trying to get some last minute shopping done. There’s not much conversation on the way. Finally they approach the shopper’s SUV.
“Well, here we are. I warned you it was a long way over here.”
“That’s okay.” As he hands the last of the gifts to the shopper, he speaks “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
The shopper looks at him and thinks -- “Oh, no, here it comes he’s going to ask for money. Well, he did help me with my stuff so I guess a couple of bucks won’t hurt. After all it is Christmas”.
“Go ahead, ask away”.
“Are you missing Christmas?”
“What?” He paused. “If you mean would I miss Christmas if it went away then the answer is no. I’ve had it with all the hustle and bustle – trying to find a parking place, spending money I don’t have on gifts people don’t appreciate or need. And for what – just because it’s what we’re supposed to do every year? Same stupid sappy Christmas songs, same craze to have a sale on everything to get people to come out. Worse than all that is that it now starts the day after Hallowe’en, or so it seems to me. Me, miss Christmas? – not much I wouldn’t”.
The young man looked at the shopper with sadness in his eyes. “I guess I have my answer though I’m always hoping to hear something different but I rarely do.”
The shopper walked around to get into the driver’s seat. “Now let me ask you a question. Why did you want to know?”
He lowered his eyes and shook his head. “I keep hoping people will remember whose birthday it is and what the holiday is supposed to be about.”
The shopper, paused before he spoke … “Well, I’m not really a very religious man but then again neither are many of my friends. I think that part of Christmas disappeared a long time ago. It’s all about shopping and Santa Claus and all that.” He took a long look into the face of the young man.
“Why should you care whose birthday it is?”
He walked over to the where the shopper stood and without ceremony simply held his face in his hands and said “Because it’s mine.” And with that brief declaration he vanished.
Stunned, this foul-mouthed, middle-aged ex-Marine got into his car and in a kind of almost drunken stupor drove home. What had just happened? What did it mean? Who was that young man, was he …? He let the thought trail off because the answer was too preposterous to consider. And yet …
This encounter really happened and from now on, at least at Christmas time, he would remember it – and maybe even remember whose birthday it is.
A fanciful tale, to be sure, but the question is real for all of us “Are We Missing Christmas?” Only your heart and mine, know the answer to that.
Happy Birthday Jesus (or if you prefer, Merry Christmas)
George Gagliardi, December, 2017