Tomorrow, it will be Christmas. Another Christmas under my belt. This is, undoubtedly, my favorite time of the year.
Unfortunately, I find that the glint in my eyes that the holidays elicit seems to grow dimmer and dimmer as time passes.
The story isn’t new. Growing up, you have cares in the world, but they are few and far between. Death is a concept either wholly unknown or partially foreign and your responsibilities have not grown to towering heights yet. That’s your everyday experience.
Then Christmas comes along and all that joy that comes part and parcel with that is coupled with your already freewheeling existence and it literally feels like you can float, maybe even fly.
As a kid, Christmas time meant getting gifts and having the entire family come together in one roof to eat and play games and talk. I’m an only child, so the latter I always particularly looked forward to.
So there’s that but then there’s also the entire tone of the season, the way the environment changes. I grew up in Orange County so it never snowed, but of course I still got the festive decorations as a sort of consolation prize.
Street lamps would be adorned with toy soldier frills and large cartoon snowflakes would adorn various buildings around the city. It wasn’t snow, but as a young boy, it was enough.
It was enough to set my eyes alight and make me feel something inside that wasn’t there the rest of the year. Even then, I knew it was beyond words although all the hackneyed reasons people give, all the typical explanations you’re likely to hear, are very close approximations of why – even if they’re not quite.
Ironically enough, this time of the year makes me feel warm.
But flash forward years later. I’m older and experience has weathered my mind and soul. Santa doesn’t bring me gifts anymore and the scream-inducing gifts aren’t the ones I get. I receive envelopes and boxes. Yes, kids – boxes of clothes! My young self is disgusted, I’m sure.
I know much more about life and people than I did those first couple of Christmases, and with every day, I feel the wonder slipping through my fingers slowly, hard as I try not to let go.
It took a while to get here, but I’ve since reconciled myself with the fact that my life, in terms of Christmases, is all downhill from here. I’m not being pessimistic; just think about it. Remember when you first learned of a holiday where some jolly old fat man seemed to arbitrarily give you gifts.
How can you beat that, really? The very notion is amazing, and if I were to be told about something like that now, I’m pretty sure I’d still shit my pants in excitement.
Now, however, the mystery is gone and no one slides down my chimney.
Yet, as I’m driving down the street with the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack playing, I can still feel bits and pieces of that divine sensation from so long ago sort of break to the surface.
I might not get to feel it the same way I used to, with the same sort of intensity, but no one’s taking those memories away from me.
Those memories, they last – and those I get to feel whenever I want.