That week between Christmas and New Year can be a reflective time, for me at least. Full of memories of Christmases gone by, taking stock of the year that’s about to slip away and looking forward to a calendar full of fresh empty pages.
I like working during that week. It’s usually pretty quiet, many of my co-workers have taken time off and it’s a great opportunity to get things done that for too long have lingered on my to do list. It doesn’t take much though, to cause my mind to wander during this time of year.
On a bookshelf in my office I have a set of bookends, Rodin’s “The Thinker.” They belonged to my dad, who had quite a collection of bookends. As I looked at them one afternoon during that final week of 2022 I thought, “Sixth Christmas without Dad.”
The mind can be a funny thing. In my reflective mood, that one thought led to memories of other loved ones who have gone on before and the precious few Christmases we had together. And from that to a quick calculation of how very few Christmases I had left with other, aging loved ones, family members and friends and the realization that we all of us are aging.
“What can we do, Lord,” I said (I often speak out loud to the Lord as I ponder the imponderables) “but make the most of the short time You give us here with each other.”
Those thoughts reminded me of a similar afternoon 10 years ago. I left my office to take a walk around the building before going on the air. As I turned the corner of the building, I saw perhaps one of the saddest sights any lover of Christmas can see in the waning days of December.
What had only days before been a Christmas tree lot, full of the hope and potential joy of the season, was now abandoned, a dozen or so trees left unceremoniously lying on the ground. So close to fulfilling their purpose, but now never to realize it. Strange, maybe, to think of a tree as having a purpose. Yet these trees did, once. Someone raised, cultivated and nurtured them for one ultimate purpose. To help some family celebrate the birth of the Savior. While I’m sure that they may have served some secondary purposes, providing a home for a family of birds and pumping oxygen into our air, they fell short of what they had been intended to do. Maybe through no fault of their own, but short they fell, nonetheless.
“Lord, please don’t let me wind up like those trees,” I said. And while I’m not very big on the whole New Year’s resolution thing, since that day, every year at this time I have made a point to remember those forsaken trees as I strive to more fully serve the purpose that’s been appointed to me.
Happy New Year.