"Blast off in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1" and away we went launching into California Screaming at Disney's California Adventure. It's a fun little roller coaster with a couple of drops, lots of turns and one overhead loop. Since the line was short we rode it a couple of times. Over the years I have ridden a variety of roller coasters and each one is different and unique. Everyone seems to have their favorite, well that is except those who don't like them at all. While I love roller coasters nothing compares to the roller coaster of life. For some reason we like to think of life as one long smooth ride and yet we know that is not the case, life is more like a roller coaster, filled with ups and downs, neck wrenching turns and sometimes several loops.
California Screaming reminds me a lot of Christmas. We wait in a long line (several long lines) and the anticipation builds. Then finally we are in place and the count down begins then suddenly its a whirlwind of action, until suddenly some pictures are taken and we arrive at the end. Some people will walk off screaming with excitement, others will be left unsatisfied that the ride wasn't what they expected and still others will be thankful that they survived and that it's over. But all be left to determine the relative ranking of how this roller coaster ride compares with others. The whole point of roller coasters is to feel that rush of adrenaline. For some the scarier the better, while others prefer a calmer, slower ride. The important part is that everyone has their relative comfort level and we all know where that edge is. It is simple to get caught up in the excitement of the ride and then the pending debate over the relative excitement level and our satisfaction. For those who decide at the last moment that the ride is beyond their comfort level there is always an exit and a place to wait and watch the others. What I think gets overlooked in the chaos of Christmas is those who were unable to even have the choice of riding or not. Those who couldn't afford the price of admission and thus reach the decision point. Those who may never know the rush of adrenaline that comes from the crazy ride. Christmas is a truly magical time for some people, but not for everyone. I am truly blessed this Christmas to have my children back home from college and we will all be together to enjoy the ride. We will gather with extended families and relive Christmas Traditions. I am sure there will be plenty of laughter, but in the quiet moments there will be sadness for those who can't be here this Christmas. Those who have passed, that we would give anything to see again and others who can't make the trip for whatever reason, but then again it's like the ride, some people will be left completely alone and forgotten this holiday. They won't know the thrill of the anticipation or the ensuing ride. What's worse is that while seemingly the rest of the world is "merry" the relative difference seems even larger. It's like being the kid standing on the outside of the amusement park watching everyone else having fun.
As I said, I love roller coasters and there is nothing better than spending the holidays with family and friends. For those of us fortunate enough to have these blessings and can afford admission and enjoy the ride lets do what we can for those who don't have that ability. To those of you who are hurting this Christmas, remember life is a roller coaster, the largest drops eventually turn back up, hang in there and eventually it all comes back around.
Merry Christmas! And happy holiday's to my friends of other faiths!