It can be about the family trekking through the snow looking for that one perfect tree. For millions it will involve rummaging through the memories in their minds in search of the presence of lost loved ones or childhoods past. Some will journey to Bethlehem in their spirits, while others physically journey to the local homeless shelter to lend a hand. A father will compose a little Christmas song for his daughter and a young mother will leave a pine wreath and the graveside of her parents. And for many it will entail the arduous journey of forgiveness and the restoration of relationship, or even perhaps moving on.
This isn’t about activity but adventure … and there is a difference, for it involves the process of stretching the soul so that it might take in more meaning and capacity. And it doesn’t even have to involve leaving the house. As Terry Pratchett would remind us in A Hat Full of Sky:
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
We always come back after Christmas, but we are never quite the same if we have been on an adventure. If we are lucky, we discover that the greatest journey of all is into our own hearts. It is the ability to look inside of ourselves and discover new avenues for growth and refinement. The truth is that it is the invisible aspects of life that quietly draw us to them over the holiday season: love, grief, peace, memory, tradition, longing, hurt, and, yes, forgiveness.
The original Christmas story would never have survived if some of the key characters hadn’t been willing to take a journey, to venture beyond what was comfortable or secure. True Christmas adventures are different for each of us, but they do take us all to the point of departure – a state of mind that is willing to be more complete, more human, and more willing to expand our spirits and minds to embrace deeper lives of value and character. The success of this holiday season will ultimately be defined by how many take that adventure.