There is a line in the movie Kung Fu Panda when the gentle, wise Master Oogway tells the anxious Dragon Warrior Po:
“You are too concerned with what was and what will be. Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
My kids were young when Kung Fu Panda was first released, which meant that we watched the DVD over and over and over again. For this reason, I know the line by heart and can track exactly when it appears in the story (you can watch the 2 minute scene here). It’s a visually stunning scene, with the dark gray clouds covering the purple mountains, the pink peach blossoms, and the warm light of Oogway’s lantern. The funny thing about this scene is that every time I watch it, it reminds me of Christmas. Of course, like most people, I associate the word “present” with Christmas. But it’s more than that. Christmas day is the one day of the year when I feel fully in the present moment and that is the best gift it offers to me.
On Christmas day the streets are deserted, all the stores are closed, and the only electronic communication are the friends and family texting “Merry Christmas” memes. It seems to exist outside of time—a timelessness between the end of a tired old year and the beginning of an energetic new one. My ideal Christmas is removed from the regrets of the past and the fears of the future. Freed for moments of quiet tenderness and humor, just like this scene between these two characters. I am always in need of being brought into the present moment, which is where I believe the Christ child is born.
I hope that you have experienced your ideal Christmas whatever that may look like. I look forward to seeing you on the other side of this timelessness as we begin a new and promising year together.