Every year at about this time the Old Man disappears. Maybe he's out on a bender. Perhaps he has an annual tryst. Wherever it is he goes, no one seems to know.
Then he returns, reemerging as an innocent babe. It maybe that he has found the most magic of all grails, that enigmatic Fountain of Youth that has beguiled man since time immemorial.
Old Man, why is that you forsake us? Can you not find it in your heart to invite us along on your yearly sojourn? Though the trek may be fraught with danger, would it not be wise to travel in the comfort and safety of numbers? Dare you not share your secret? Are you honor bound by some pact written in blood?
Your presence is felt until that penultimate date every December. In a mere trice you are transformed, your timeworn body in tattered robe transmuting into smooth tissue adorned in white raiment. Where once an old man hobbled with staff in hand, now crawls a mere babe.
Witnessing this transformation, I can now understand that eternal Riddle of the Sphinx. In the mornings of our lives we move on all fours. During the days we walk upright on two legs. Finally, in the evenings we move about with the aid of a cane to steady those legs. Yes, the answer sought by the Sphinx was mankind.
Weep not for the Old Man, instead, embrace the Child. Dwell not on what has transpired, but rejoice for the lives we have yet to experience. We must retain the lessons we have learned for they are the guideposts along the paths we must travel while on our journey.
Just who is that Old Man? Have you not solved for yourself the Riddle of the Sphinx? He is you. He is me. He is us. We tread upon the same path.
As you ponder on these words of an aging almost old man, take with you my wishes for a happy, healthy and memorable New Year.