It soon will be Christmas…again. The annual wait for this most joyous, yet cantankerous of holidays, seems to shorten each year as my life lengthens. Wasn’t it just last month we took down the decorations?
Christmas is famously the one holiday that stirs the emotions more than any other. It builds towering, lifelong memories, many reinforced by family traditions we adopt along the way. Christmas elevates the best feelings and gestures in all of us, and yet, it has the power to deflate, inhibit and depress. Christmas does all these things and, depending on your current state of mind, you welcome the holiday with open arms…or you prepare for the emotional hit.
My childhood memories of Christmas are shared by many. I believed in Santa Claus until I was about 8 or 10 years old; wanted to continue believing for a few more years, although I knew better. Thereafter, facing the reality of Santa never threw coal on the excitement the holiday brought each year. Absolutely not! Santa’s spirit lives on, just as I have.
My younger Christmas years were bountiful with toys. I remember the fort, complete with Indians attacking and the cavalry saving; there were bikes, skates, board games, fads like hula hoops and always lots of candy. In my early teens my brother and I were heavy into model railroading and most of our presents supported that phase of our lives. Later on, new clothes, once the boring under-appreciated gift, now took on a much higher ranking. And, just after making it through my first semester of college, Rosemarie arrived in my life and she brought with her a whole new sizzle to the holiday. And here we are now, soon to decorate our 58th Christmas tree together.
Christmas, just as I have, has begun showing its age. The excitement is much lower key now, the gifting somewhat routine and the overall luster of the holiday has lost some of its sparkle. Christmas, after all, is really for the children. It is a time to spoil them, while hopefully embedding the joy of giving and the value of kinship. Fortunately, there are sufficient numbers of grandchildren still available in my life and most of them want Christmas dinner to be at our house. Since I am the primary chef in our household, this means I will be busy enough Christmas day not to worry about my aging body and thoughts about how many more Christmases there will be for me. The holiday has become bittersweet. But like that flavor of fine chocolate, it is still the preferred morsel that I instinctively reach for once the holiday season has arrived…again.