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I shoot a confusing glance at the windows of the shops around me, all of which are adorned with various advertising posters and show that the stores are bustling with people.
What is wrong with this stage in time? Did I jump a few months too far?
Before I left home, the people were already starting to prepare nearby chapels for Christmas, and the shopping centers were nearly empty — a complete opposite of what lay before my eyes. As I continue to survey the mall, a bookstore catches my attention. I walk inside, with the intent of looking for a newspaper. I immediately spot a stack near the entrance, and I hurriedly glance at the date. December 1, 2065. The machine did not go wrong; I have traveled exactly 60 years from the past. It’s already the start of the Christmas season. Why are there tons of people inside the mall, I wonder?
I leave the bookstore and continue exploring. After deciding which of the shops to check first, I approach a toy store. Kids are everywhere — calling for their parents, pointing at figurines, looking at remote-controlled planes. Joy almost radiates everywhere, but among all of the happiness, I notice a sad scene that makes me pause. There is a crestfallen father consoling his crying son, who is clutching a blue car tightly to his chest.
“There, there,” he said. “Daddy himself will make you a better toy car — even better than that one!”
I go near the duo and smile softly at the son. He suddenly gets shy and tries to wipe his tear-stained face while hiding behind his father’s figure. The father turns to me and tells me that he usually feels like he isn’t a good enough father whenever Christmas comes around. He tells me about how other families hold parties big enough to host an entire community, how other parents come home with whatever their child has asked for. I see the sorrow in his eyes when he tells me the only thing he can offer his son is a trip to the mall. It seems like these things are important to them, almost as important as celebrating Christ’s birthday.
In hopes of making him feel better, I state that these things do not matter. I say that what matters most is that we honor Jesus Christ by attending Mass. The father shoots me a questioning glance, unsure about what to answer. I continue talking passionately about how because it is Christ’s birthday, we should remember what he has done for us. I look at the father’s face and, confusingly, it is filled with amusement. He asks me where I got my ideas from, saying he only hears stuff like this from his mother and father, never from someone as young as me. I am about to defend what I believe in when he says it’s okay to be part of the minority. I nod, walking away and not understanding what the world has become.
I walk along the shops when a family passes by me, each member holding a couple of paper bags that are clearly full of gifts. After a while, I see a couple holding hands, going inside a shop full of clothes. Then comes a teenage boy, alone, and yet still mesmerized by the things the shops have for display.
Do these people even think about going to church? Do they even know what Christmas is all about? Do 60 years really have this much capacity to nearly eliminate the meaning of a special holiday?
I compare my present and this future, not knowing how I’d have to go back without dying of despair for what’s to come. It scares me to think that when I go back, I may be dreading Christmas — that someday this holiday would merely be a tool used for people to get what they want without feeling guilty. But hope will never be lost, as long as a soul is willing to work for what is right, so I vow to try to preserve the true meaning of Christmas as long as I can. I vow that in the new future I will create, Christmas would not merely be a medium for gift giving and receiving. In the future, Christmas would not be a holiday associated with parties.
In the future, Christmas would still be about Christ.