When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money. My dad was a schoolteacher, and there were five of us, so extras were hard to come by back then. Still, Christmas ALWAYS managed to be magical. We always had something there from Santa Claus.
My Aunt Maxine always gave us chocolate advent calendars, and it seemed like a year from December 1st until Christmas Eve. We would take each chocolate out and savor it, because we knew it would be FOREVER until we could have another one. Twenty-four hours might as well have been a lifetime.
One of my favorite childhood memories made its way into WIVES AND SISTERS. We had a cat that we used to wrap up and use as the baby Jesus in our annual reenactment of the birth of our Savior. That cat did not like swaddling. He escaped more than he spent time in the cradle. He was NOT very appreciative of his starring role, let me tell you. One would think he would be appreciative of not having to wear a towel on his head and a bathrobe, but no. He just wanted to lay by the fire and hide. I think we scarred him for life. One look at a blanket and he took off at high speed and couldn’t be found for days.
I remember a year when my dad made us an air hockey table, and we went to pick it up on Christmas Eve, and it was snowing. BIG HUGE FLAKES just coming down, and you could almost see every single design on them, and back then you could stick your tongue out and catch them and not worry about getting acid and pollution on your tongue. There was no doubt, none, that it was Christmas snow. There just for us, to make Christmas special.
I have lots of memories like these. Then I grew up, and went away to college, and lived on my own, and there were a few years when I didn’t love Christmas as much as I did as a child. But then I had my own children, and ONCE AGAIN, Christmas was magical.
And then it wasn’t. It just passed.
Because Christmas is not, nor has it ever been about me. It has always been about the joy I see on other faces. The excitement of my children as they counted down to Christmas Eve. The gifts wrapped around the tree just waiting to be opened. For about the past four years, I have wrapped all Dancing Daughter’s presents in one wrapping paper, and all Chatter Child’s presents in another, and then I REFUSED to tell them which was which. This gave me great joy. I caught them more than once snooping around the tree, shaking boxes, looking for clues. Drove them nuts.
They would guess which wrap belonged to which child, and try to get an answer out of me, and I would never tell.
But then things changed. Chatter Child moved away and Dancing Daughter is ready to launch, filled with senioritis, signing with the top acting agency in our state, and preparing for life as an adult. And I found myself with nothing much to be excited about. Birdman and I relocated, so even the grandkids weren’t close. He doesn’t care much for Christmas, so I am alone in my decorating joy.
This year, nobody around me was excited about Christmas. Nobody couldn’t wait to decorate the tree, or shake the presents, or even BUY the presents. In our new abode, there isn’t a lot of room for a Christmas tree, and it was in the way of the television, and pretty much freaked the great dane out, because she had nowhere to lay.
So today we took it all down.
This year, Christmas just passed.
And I know why. Because it’s not about me. It’s about others, and the joy they feel. And I believe that another Christmas will come, and it will be a Christmas Past. Because there is still a lot to look forward to. And things don’t ever stay the same. And I will wish for grandchildren and more happy memories and MORE Christmas Past.
Because Christmas passed just ain’t that great.
I wish for all of you a plethora of Christmas’s Past, and not Passed. And a happy new year.