I miss Christmas.
Or rather, I miss the Christmas of my youth. I vividly recall the building anticipation and excitement that each Christmas brought. I especially loved the years, like this one, where Christmas fell near the weekend. School would let out a week before Christmas, and that week would be a special time of anticipation, with the most intense feelings of love, happiness and togetherness that I can recall. Christmas was special.
These intense feelings and the memories they've created, lasted well into adulthood. Until I started working full time. And for a while it did not help that my wife started to hate Christmas. She was working full time as a Dept. Manager at the local Bay. Which meant that the Christmas songs started playing endlessly in the store from October on. She only got one weekend off each month, with many late hours working midnight madnesses and other such consumer-oriented plans retail stores organized in pursuit of the almighty dollar. The Christmas season sucks the soul out of retail employees and I am surprised that none of them have gone "postal" over the years. Maybe when that event occurs, the term for "postal" will change to "yulenuts".
So for almost 10 years, Christmas lost much of its meaning. I'd work without break right up to Christmas, missing that slow build up of anticipation that was so instrumental in creating the emotions that carried me through the season. It felt like it was here one day, gone the next, much like any other day of the year. My wife banned all Christmas music from the home, as hearing it all day at work was sending her around the bend. Our home while not joyless, was not exactly joy-welcoming.
Then we decided to have children. My wife quit her job to become a full-time caregiver. My sons are infected with the Christmas spirit as only children can be. Slowly, the Christmas spirit is finding its way back into my home.
Here it is December 24th. Christmas eve. I'm stuck in a time-warp where I think it should be some time in November. I can't seem to slow down and let the slow build of happiness and anticipation take root. Christmas still rushes up to me, and waves merrily in passing. All I'm left with is the credit card bills, and a slight nauseous feeling from chugging soon to expire eggnog.
I've also saddled myself with the curse of atheism during a holiday that used to have deep religious significance for me. Even as protestants, without mass and the other sacraments that we mocked the Catholics for, Christmas was a special time. Each Sunday in December would celebrate the coming birth of the saviour, the Christ-child, the promise of sins forgiven and life begun anew. While never approaching the somber spiritual introspection and renewal that came with Easter, Christmas was a pre-thanksgiving. We thanked God for the coming deliverance and the profound insight and sacrifice that it entailed.
So here I am, a "born again" atheist that wants his Christmas back, who cannot find the time to truly appreciate it anymore.
Therefore, today I will turn on the Christmas music, sing along with "Joy to the World" without a sense of irony, sip my eggnog and love my family. If I can't have my week, I am going to have a day or two. And I will treasure every minute of it.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas! May the spirit of peace, love and togetherness find you wherever you are.