This time of year we all get a bit nostalgic and think about the simpler times.  We look back with fondness to days that seemed a bit easier.  Days that were not filled with so much activity or confusion.  Often as we look back, we think of family and friends.  We think of conversations and feelings of love and joy.

Often times, there is a sense of sadness when we go down memory lane.  We think about the people who are no longer with us and we think about happy times that seem now gone forever.  Times when we were younger.  Times that seemed more innocent, more comfortable, and safer.

Sometimes our walks down memory lane lead us to feelings of hopelessness for the present time.  We get angry that the world has changed and things around us have lost their innocence and turned colder.

Where is the nostalgia of today?

It’s easy to dismiss the fondness for the past as selective memory recall and it’s true that nobody’s past was a true Norman Rockwell painting.  Even Rockwell didn’t have a purely innocent life filled with no worries or fears.  Yes, every generation looks back at their own past with a certain prejudice.  This being said, it still feels as if we lose a bit of innocence with each passing year.

I would like to make a suggestion.

Choose your today.

It is easy for us to say the world has lost its innocence and to quote Cole Porter, “Anything goes.”  We can look at the world and say things are bad.  All sins are easy to attain.  But this doesn’t mean we have to attain them.  We do have choices in the world in which we live.  We can choose to keep many of the things we miss in our moments of nostalgia and maybe even invite some new memories in the process.

If most of the memories we have when we look back are moments spent with family and friends, then we can choose to spend more time with family and friends. We can also invite new families and friends and together we can share our memories of the past along with our blessings of the present.

Let’s think of the world as a big grocery store.

On the shelves are a variety of goods.  There is the shelf of TV shows and movies that focus on drug use, and violence.  There’s a shelf filled with news and social media focusing only on negativity and fear.  Another shelf offers self-centered activity and imagery promoting promiscuity.   Around the corner is a shelf offering racism, hatred, and judgment.  This is next to a shelf of foul language and disrespect.  There is also a special display for all things we know we shouldn’t be doing. The choices on these shelves come at a pretty big cost.

But, on the far wall of this grocery store sits a different display.  The shelves look a bit undisturbed along with some empty spaces that are labeled.

One of those empty spaces is labeled “Time without TV.”   Another simply says, “Quietness.”   Next to that is a display called “Family Time.” while another is labeled “A Walk Outside.”  There are other things on the display; things like church, prayer, and bible. They sit right beside shelves marked, love, kindness, respect, and inclusiveness.

One of the biggest differences between this display and the other shelves in the store is the prices.  Everything on this display is offered free of charge.

We can choose what and who we spend our lives with.  We can choose what we surround ourselves with.  We can choose the way we echo our faith to the world.  We can choose to change the world by changing the shelves we pull from.

I invite us all to evaluate what it is we are shopping for this season.  Are we shopping for negativity? Promiscuity? Hatred? Anger?  Or are we shopping for happiness?  Love? Grace?

By making some wise shopping choices, we can save quite a bit.

We can shop for the things that are free and not for the items that cost us even more than we think.  We can make choices to fill our lives with things more pure and wholesome and choose not to purchase other things this world offers.

Just because there are things on the shelves, doesn’t mean we have to pay for them and take them into our homes.  We don’t have to fill our world with things that make us wish for days when we didn’t have them.

We can choose to have those days of nostalgia, those days of grace, those days of love, right here and now.