Once In a Lifetime

A young man drives to work on the day before Christmas, Talking Heads on the radio. He reflects for a moment on the past year as David Byrne screeches out the lyrics, “And you may ask yourself: Well, how did I get here?”

He thinks back to December 24 the year before, and then the year before, and then he thinks of the year before that. He keeps turning back the pages of his memory and recalls tiny glimpses of the holidays now passed. Often, the images in his mind’s eye last only a second, or even less, but immeasurable meaning can be found in each one.
A moment of his mother, baking cookies for the family.
A few short frames of his sister, stringing 700 lights on an eight-foot tree.
The sound of his father, ringing bells and shouting “Merry Christmas!” playing Santa Claus.
There are a million more moments just like these, and in his memory, they tie themselves together in a mosaic of joy and thankfulness that wraps around the shoulders of the holiday season.

David Byrne suggests, “You may ask yourself: Am I right, am I wrong? You may say to yourself: my God, what have I done?”

The young man rolls down the highway and spontaneously wells with tears. He asks himself where the person he was in those images has gone. In spite of all the things that have happened to him, or in spite of the things that haven’t, has the quality of his life truly changed? With the exception of just a few, all those people that cared about him are with him still, and no matter where he is or where he’s been, the tapestry of his life is woven together the same.

His thoughts turn to the coming end of the year, and ironically, the track on the radio shifts to Counting Crows and “A Long December.” He contemplates the significance of one year among so many, one chain of events amid the innumerable links of life. He decides to try in the coming new year to realize how beautiful each moment is, what blessing each breathe come with, and how the sum total of a man’s life weighs much heavier in the cosmic scheme than any other moment or set of moments he could consider.

He pulls into the parking lot, turns off the car, and takes a moment to thank God for this day and this realization. When all the chips finally fall, he decides, he will find comfort in the warmth of his life’s wonderful memories.

God bless you and yours this holiday season.

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