Wednesday, December 27, 2017

And it's over.

One thing I've learned about how adulthood is different from childhood: the run-up to Christmas is the good part. The various parties with nice food or singing with friends or even token gift exchanges. The lights and decorations. The appearance of festive food and festive things, even in otherwise drab groceries. The feeling, for about a month, of specialness and prettiness. And it culminates with church on December 24, which in some ways is the best service of the year - for one thing, it's at night, which is different and special.

And then it all kind of goes away. Usually, the day after Christmas, the channels that have been playing Christmas music - sometimes since before Thanksgiving - go back to their regular formats. The Christmas movies are mothballed for another year (except for a few channels, like Hallmark, that do a "Christmas in July" promotion, and I'm sorry, but I just can't get into that. I can't watch Christmas movies when it's 110 degrees out). And it's back to Ordinary Time, or at least, for those less conscious of the liturgical year (for the rest of us: we have until Epiphany, but it's kind of hard to keep up the Christmas spirit when everyone else seems to want to move on to the run-up to Valentine's Day - a holiday I don't really celebrate).

When I was a kid, it was different, of course. December seemed to drag on FOR-EVER. Of course, time in general seemed slower when I was a kid, because I'd lived less of it, and because I was less busy than I am now. But it seemed like forever from the day I sent off my Santa letter and the "big day." I couldn't wait for Christmas and I'd tell my parents that and roll my eyes when they told me I'd feel differently when I got older. (They were right).

I also remember other things - shaking the wrapped packages, or feeling of them to see what they contained. I don't do that any more; I want to be totally surprised when I open it. (Usually, it's not as much of a surprise; since I moved away from home my parents know my wants less, and I have to supply a list, so I know it will be one of about ten different items, and that's less fun than when I was a kid, when it could be ANYTHING).

We decorated more when I was a kid. I'm sure it was because my brother and I were kids, but also, maybe, my parents had more time - or for my dad, it was more of an escape from work, just as my having a tree up, and lights, and little LED candles in the window, and putting out a few of my special dolls and animals is a nice escape from work for me, and I can come home at night and look at them, even if I'm having to sit and grade as I do.

I don't remember us doing a lot of activities outside the house (other than church). I guess we went to the mall to see Archie the Snowman, and when I was really young, there was a Breakfast with Santa some Saturday in December....but I don't think my parents went to parties and stuff. (When I was in grad school - that was when the at-work parties started. My dad's department had a potluck lunch, which was always fun and good. Spouses were invited (and anyway, my mom was an adjunct at times), and I was invited as well - I usually brought a tray of cookies and candy I had made.

(Ah, for those days. When I had time between Thanksgiving and Christmas to make a few batches of cookies and candy, and plenty of eager recipients to eat them).

And there was a party in my department, often a potluck in the evening, and also get-togethers with food during exam week. (And Secret Santas, which I've talked about before).

And really, as an adult, I need those things - because Christmas itself, so exciting when I was a child, has become a quieter day. There are never really any new toys to look at, there's rarely snow any more (and I don't really play in the snow like I did when I was a kid).

And yeah, it makes me sad when it's gone, put away for another 11 months or so. It's hard to find a lot else special during the rest of the year - there's Easter, though that's not a "big" holiday in the US and is mainly church for me. And few people care that much about my birthday even if I try to mark the day. But for most of the rest of the year, there's just not that much, which is why I try hard to enjoy the run-up to Christmas as much as I can, and I kind of wish that we carried it on to Epiphany....

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