I want to take a quick break in the three-part series to wish everyone a very merry Christmas. Christmas, leading into New Year’s, serves as my calendar’s axis, the central point around which my year swings. Before rounding the corner, time slows down….allows me to rest…then picks up speed and thrusts me once again into another year.
In this pause, I reflect on Christmases past. What I remember most vividly from my childhood is the hushed feeling of expectation the night before Christmas. The tree full of ornaments, and smelling of pine. Tons of presents underneath the changing colored lights (in my child’s memory, a mountain!). Giving the tree one last glance before going up the stairs to my room. Being happy deep inside about how pretty it was and how full of promise. And then warm in my bed, completely unable to go to sleep. Until I did, and then it was Christmas morning (7 am?) and I got to tear down the stairs and wait impatiently until everyone else had assembled for rip-the paper-open, breathless fun.
When I was a kid, I took it for granted that Christmas would continue on in the same way forever, a fixed magical feature of my year. But the reality is that I haven’t had those kinds of Christmases for a while. In high school I was content to wake up at 10 am and amble down to the tree. It was nice, but it wasn’t the same. I mean, for one thing, there is just no way as an adult I will ever get anything as completely awesome as Barbie’s Tropical Mansion. To put it more bluntly, I grew up. The tree grew small, and the lights less bright.
So there it is. Life is constantly changing, we cannot hold on. As much as we want to join Tinkerbell and Peter, we don’t get a Never-Never Land (for all you Buddhists out there, yes, this is a meditation on impermanence.) But that’s okay. In fact, this is what gives makes me love and appreciate Christmas today. Today, unlike when I was a kid, I get that I might not have another Christmas like this one. I appreciate that I have been blessed with one more year with my parents, brother, family, and friends. When I give thanks for what I have, the old magic and wonder is still there. But today, it is deeper, more truly grateful, and somewhat bittersweet.
As for the Christmas to come, I have no idea what those will bring. I just hope that there are more memories to be made, more life to be lived. And I hope I appreciate every one.
Merry Christmas and love to all!