Ghosts of Christmas Eve
Though lodged deep in the Southern States, in my minds eye, I see snows flying and Christmas lights twinkling from times long ago. Strange that there are times and places that stick with a man, sometimes seemingly without choice. Many are small things that become unforgettable, treasured, and ghostly in their vivid details that remain so fresh.
Christmas Eve, 1986: NPR was reading Forsythe's 'The Shepherd' which left an indelible impression upon me. The blue lights of the old Kenwood Receiver are clear as day in my mind just like the small Christmas tree in a rental house - now thousands of miles away and decades past. The walls of the house were trimmed in rustic wood paneling, the carpet grey with a hard knit pile that was unforgiving to those who scurried over it on all fours. Electric wallboard heaters lined the rooms with thermostats that seemed to either be 'on' or 'off.' The next day would bring Christmas, but for me, it is the Eve that haunts like a Ghost of Christmas past.
A decade later, Midwestern snows fly on a different Eve. My father and I drove through it, remarking "it is a classic Christmas Eve, isn't it?" The tool of the day was a '90 4x4 Suburban, steady and true, always ready.
What ghosts visit in the quiet of a Christmas Eve? Old memories of snows that fly? Memories of a Western World that seemed to slow just for a bit with a tear of anticipation of something - a pause, a moment that tugs into the future - a quiet that hangs just a little more steadily than other nights. Will memories be of family that are no longer present? Perhaps separated by miles, or perhaps by eternity? Memories of small stations that dotted the lands, held warm and light for the final travelers of the days long past, replaced today by unstaffed darkness and unwelcoming cold.
For me, these memories and ghosts come back in the quiet morning even in the photo above, taken today, Christmas Eve 2018. The Meridian Speedway waits beneath a growing light, waiting like a watchman for the dawn to come. The sun will soon rise, and I pray that it will rise with healing in its rays for all men. Great is the offer of Peace and the depth of memories from times past. On this Eve, may God bless you and keep you and bring you peace as the world seems to hang just for an instant in the quiet anticipation of what can come, what is offered by Him who is celebrated, and of memories of Eves long ago.