I’ve been living in a sort of dream state over the last few weeks. I had the entire week of Thanksgiving off for vacation, then I had another four-day weekend last week, and a three-day weekend just closed out, and I’ll be on vacation after Friday until the end of the year.
And starting January 4, 2016, is when the other shoe drops.
I’ve been doing this to myself for a long time. Christmas time is my favorite time of year, so I always save as much vacation as I can for this time of year. Ever since I was a kid, my year never stopped revolving around Christmas.
Nothing changes this year.
What’s hard for me, though, is getting back into the swing of working after the holidays. I have a long, unbroken stretch of work weeks before the next holiday rears its head above the fecal sludge. The in-between time takes a lot of energy to reach.
I’ve got some major projects due in January too, so that’s not helping build excitement. Try as I might, I simply am not able to get my head into the game of doing things now for then. I know I should. I know it’s the grown-up, responsible thing to do. I know it is. I just…can’t manage it for some reason.
The magic of Christmas just never wore off for me. I still don’t love snow or bitter cold, but I can deal with them so much better around Christmas time. And the excitement, the thrill, of seeing the faces of my kids as they open gifts my wife and I have given them is more amazing than anything I experienced when I got gifts myself.
Decorating the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving is so much fun, and we have the eggnog my wife loves. The kids actually tried it this year. They only liked the whipped cream, but hey, it’s a start. I didn’t love it when I was a kid either.
The menu for Christmas Eve and Christmas are different for us too. We’re going for more of a snack-tray feel this year. Crackers, cheese, some cold-cuts, and probably some canned squirt-cheese goo. Like a holiday cocktail party without the cocktails, I guess. I’m looking forward.
But mostly it’s about the kids. My daughter wants to do things – open the presents – on the evening of Christmas day. I was always a Christmas Eve kinda guy. I wanted to play with my new stuff all day Christmas. So my family would have us open gifts on Christmas Eve before going to church with the other yawning, mewling mob at the stroke of midnight. Which meant we had to arrive at something like 11:15 so we’d be able to get a seat. And even then, there were already old people nodding off in their seats.
The candles, the fir boughs, the incense, the pageantry of Christmas in full display! Open the extra rooms! Dig out the extra chairs! For some reason Christmas and Easter drag slobs who won’t set foot in church any other time out of the woodwork and into the crowded parking lots.
Their ill-fitting and out-of-date suits are the same ones they’ve worn for the last forty years, arms folded over their guts as they bulge and rumble through the carb-fest Christmas dinner from hours before. They slump in their seats and belch and discreetly fart, hoping there’s enough coughing and shuffling and booming organ music to drown it out when they do. Too much Christmas cheer means they’re bleary and hardly awake, but HEY! They’re HERE! Isn’t that all God cares about anyway?
I won’t go into the theology issues with Christmas, or with attending church as an obligation, but by the time we got home from the borefest that is church – and at Christmas, the extended borefest – we can barely keep our eyes open while we play with our brand-new toys, games, and cast aside the eyeroll-inducing clothes we got from well-meaning but ill-informed relatives.
And, while the adults are still recovering from Christmas Eve and the following Christmas day of crashing, racing, roaring, stomping, laughing, yelling kids, and perhaps the equal spectacle of someone hosting another dinner because their family does Christmas day instead, then comes…my birthday!
Ah, the holidays. I loved them then. I love them now.
More now though. Maybe I’ll tell you why someday.
But today is not that day.
I hope you’re having a great holiday season so far.