Remember that feeling of excitement and exhilaration when you took some of your first elevator rides? Perhaps it was a little scary—or maybe it was more fun than frightening. Either way, I’m pretty sure your stomach flip-flopped and you felt a bit dizzy with the sudden lurching and swift movement. I know I always did!
When I was about five or six years old, I remember the anticipation of climbing aboard the elevator at one of the larger metropolitan department stores. It was Christmastime and we were headed for the top floor, where the toy department and the Winter Carnival awaited. Complete with its rides, decorations, and fake snow—it was also the temporary home of a child’s best friend at Christmas, Santa Claus!
It was chilly outside and we were bundled against the elements in woolen stocking caps, scarves, mittens, and heavy coats. To this day, I still remember my apprehension at getting on the elevator. Holding my parents’ and cousins’ hands so I wouldn’t get lost among the cheerful mobs of Holiday shoppers, we stepped over the threshold and into the crowded car. It felt cramped, close, and much too warm.
As the elevator doors clanked firmly shut behind us, I felt completely wedged in among the much taller adults, ladies’ purses, and paper shopping bags, bulging with their brightly wrapped gifts. I glanced up at my parents for reassurance and, when they looked down with a grin, I knew everything would be alright. I don’t know if they sensed my nervousness or not, but they asked me what gifts I’d ask Santa to bring—just so I wouldn’t forget when the time came to ask him (or so they said at the time). That helped me take my mind off the swaying and rattling we experienced on the way up and, as I realized many years later, it also gave them an idea of what to purchase for my gifts that year. Parents can sure be “sneaky” around the Holidays!
After what seemed to be a small eternity, we arrived at rooftop level. There was one last woozy, slightly weightless feeling as the elevator slowed and lurched to a stop. I waited impatiently for the doors to open, feeling somewhat like an Olympic runner at the starting blocks. Finally the doors rattled open to a brilliant world of colored lights, cheerful Holiday tunes, and the aromas of buttered popcorn, cinnamon, and hot chocolate. Cool, crisp air rushed in to replace the stale, dankness and we all surged forward, spilling out into the glitzy, sparkling, and fabulously artificial Winter Wonderland.
My cousins and I, suddenly set free, raced toward the carnival, screaming with joy—for there were real ponies, as well as whirling carousel animals, motorcycles, and even fire trucks to ride! There were games to play, prizes to win, and candy canes galore. Then there were the endless shelves full of toys—with big, shiny metal Tonka trucks, slot cars, model airplanes, G.I. Joes, Matchbox cars, and colorfully illustrated books of all kinds. Not only that, Santa Claus and his elves were there somewhere—and we had to find them. “Last one there’s a rotten egg!” My cousins and I shouted in unison as we blissfully scattered like snowflakes in the wind.
As I fondly recall that and similar Christmas adventures from long past, I can’t help but feel that we’re all experiencing something similar now—spiritually speaking, that is. Our world is changing and we’ve all stepped into a crowded elevator. Some are still distracted by their lists and shopping, not realizing the importance of this time or caring a whit which direction we go. Others, as little children, are awakened to the moment—bright-eyed, joyful, and filled with eager anticipation.
Which way will the elevator move? Will it be going up—to a new world of joyful excitement? Or will it be plunging back down—to the dark, enclosed basement garage where scary things lurk among the many shadows? We all have the choice, you know, and the way you live will determine your destination.
Me? I’ve already pushed the button for my ride. There may still be a stop or two along the way as more people join us, but this is a definitely a one-way trip—and I can’t wait ‘til we get there! So in the meantime, no matter what your own customs or traditions may be, please accept my warmest intentions for the most brilliant and wonderful Holiday Season and New Year…ever!
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