Growing up, one of my family’s Christmas traditions was watching the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol. Crotchety old Ebenezer endured the presence of three frightening specters sent to teach him the true meaning of Christmas.
The Ghost of Christmas Past always intrigued me the most. Flipping back through pages of time, being given the opportunity to connect the dots and choices that brought us to where we are. In the moment, we don’t often recognize the tiny choices that affect our futures.
A great story, a wonderful moral, memorable characters, but who ever considered Ebenezer to be a marriage counselor? He appeared to me as such this year in the guise of a gift book, A Marriage Carol.
Not to give away the whole story, suffice it to say that I identified with Marlee, the protagonist in many ways. I understood her hurt, her resignation to the failure of her marriage, her personal sense of failure. I’ve been there. Our marriage has been there. I’ve stood with my bags packed amidst a pile of boxes, overwhelmed with the decision of what I should take and what I should leave.
One might reduce the story of, A Marriage Carol, to a couple rediscovering true love. But I think there’s more. For me, the flashes of marriage days past ignites hope. God said, “These three remain faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Indeed, love is the essence of our Savior, but could we find love, or rediscover love in the absence of hope?
I remember the first Christmas when my husband and I were dating. There was a blizzard and our plans to visit his extended family were canceled. Instead, he drove to my apartment at the peril of life and limb and brought me to his parents’ home, so I could celebrate with them. I recall his dad coming in from a training run (he is a monster athlete) with icicles hanging off his beard. He inhaled a banana and left again into the blinding snow.
Today, I put on the same running tights that his parents gave me for Christmas 12 years ago.
I remember our first Christmas alone. The first time he wasn’t deployed and we didn’t have enough leave to go visit our families. He had such fun teasing me with mysterious packages under the tree, nailing everything I might have asked for and more. He proved that year that he did pay attention to the little things I mentioned all year long.
I remember the Christmas that he came home on mid-tour leave from Afghanistan. How unbelievably fortunate, that of all the times he could have gotten leave, he was granted a period covering both Christmas and our anniversary. We had a white Christmas that year, and he leaned out in the snow on our back patio to write, “I love you” on the momentary white canvas. As doily size flakes erased his words, we snuggled by the fire.
This Christmas was just the two of us again. God delivered us through the roughest waters and we were prepared to celebrate the holiday joyfully together.
I know there will be future rough years. When they come, I pray that Ebenezer visits me again and reminds me of marriage days past.