Last weekend, a friend of mine and I attended the annual production of “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre here in DC. I had always wanted to go to a show at Ford’s so this was a great opportunity to go.

christmas_carol_dickensEveryone over the age of six is probably familiar with the story: Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future to teach him about the importance of compassion for his fellow man and the meaning of Christmas.

In a way, I think I’m visited by those same spirits every December. And I think we all are.

Is there any holiday on the calendar that brings up memories of the past and a dedication to traditions like Christmas?

Every time I put up my tree and pull out my boxes of ornaments, I’m remembered of times past and people no longer with me. I remember Dad cutting down a tree each year at the Christmas tree farm in Shirley, Indiana, and setting it up in our home. I remember waking up each Christmas morning to a trail of candy running from my bed and down the stairs to the stockings by the fireplace. And I remember one Christmas Day when I was about five or six years old, having such a wonderful day and telling my Mom at the end of the day how sad I was that it was over.

Of course, each year’s celebration keeps me focused on the present. Celebrating with friends, watching TV specials and movies, going to parties, and going back to Indiana to visit family and friends keeps me living in the moment and enjoying each bit of this month.

And, perhaps because I’m getting older, I also think about the Christmases yet to come. It used to be that my entire family would get together for Christmas. As time has passed and my nieces and nephew have become adults with their own lives, that’s no longer possible.

And that makes me wonder what the future holds for Christmas celebrations. I’ve spent every Christmas of my life with my family. Will that change? How will it change? What would I do instead?

With two nieces and a nephew in their 20s and building their own lives and a Dad approaching 90, these are questions that I think more and more about each year. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to adapt to these changes as they happen, but I still dread the thought that, one day, I may be all alone on Christmas Day.

In just a day or so, I’ll be on my way back to Indiana to celebrate this most special time of year with family and old friends. I’ll relish the time spent with my Dad and the rest of my family and friends and visit old, familiar and important places. And I’ll hope once again that there will be more Christmases like this in the future.

But I’m well aware that there are a finite number of Christmases like this and that the number is getting smaller. One year, there will be a Christmas that will be unlike any I’ve ever known – and that will be just the start.

But, even once that happens, I know that the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future will continue to visit each December, bringing their mix of nostalgia, joy and anticipation. And no matter what happens, I’ll always embrace this time of year with a fondness for the past, an excitement for the present, and great hope for the future.