The way I figure it, Christmas might be the best example of the great divide between childhood and us adults.
When you’re a kid the holiday season is pretty easy. As easy as it is magical. As the day approaches your excitement builds until you think you’re going to explode – dreaming about what the big red guy might bring you this year.
I mean you have to be good and everything and you have to make a list and maybe even pay a visit to the guy in the red suit, and maybe even tip off dear ol’ mom and dad on what to tell Santa, and sure enough, December 25 arrives and there’s stuff in your stocking and presents under the tree and all that food and your cousins and friends and everyone’s happy and there’s snow outside and life is good – even if you don’t have the capacity in your brain quite yet to even comprehend that fact.
Later on, though, Christmas memories will likely dominate your childhood recollections and with any luck at all a lot of them will be warm and fuzzy. In fact, even the ones that aren’t, like the small basement fire of ‘86, bring smiles to your face because it didn’t turn out that bad, however it certainly could of – now it’s just a fond memory, embellished perhaps through the fog of storytelling.
But when you’re an adult and a parent, Christmas brings a little more stress and preparation and anxiety to the land of season’s greetings.
I mean, yes Virginia, Santa still does his stuff, I’m not out to burst any bubbles here, so the magic continues but you learn he can’t do it alone. Well, yes, he has the reindeer too and Mrs. Claus and the elves, but anyone over single digits in age knows even all that help still needs a few assists to truly score over the holidays.
But I don’t want you thinking this is just the ramblings of a man who is woefully unprepared for the big day, even though it’s only a day away. Actually the tree’s up and decorated, the gifts are all accounted for, thanks to a last-minute trip to the mall Thursday night, the refreshments are purchased and, OK, the house needs cleaning and there’s some wrapping to be done but that’s what Christmas Eve day (which would be today, folks, so hop to it) is for.
No, I’m just musing about the fact that as an adult you get wrapped up in making sure the magical qualities of Christmas that you enjoyed so much as a child live on in your children, and indeed, for yourself.
And there are plenty of details to consider – the food, the gifts that help Santa out and sometimes require extra care and consideration to get just right (depending on the person involved), even the extra time off with ones we love (most of the time) can add stress to what is supposed to be the happiest of occasions.
Even the fact that it’s supposed to be happy and joyous can add anxiety to get it just right and even occasionally wonder whether it’s all worth it.
It is. But do relax and enjoy it and try to make sure that all the fuss and work pays off with a truly happy time with family and friends. After all it’s the getting together and enjoying each other’s company that counts and will live on in our memories, not whether that tie from Uncle Tom looks suspiciously like the one you gave him three years ago.
Sure Christmas is for kids and it’s more than a little work for us adults. But we had our time as kids and now we get to celebrate it again through their eyes. And God willing, maybe some day through their kids’ eyes (but later, much later).
And we do so with the wisdom of age that teaches us that times like these are to be treasured and freeze-framed in our memory banks because time and life passes way quicker than we could have ever imagined as kids.
We adults also celebrate knowing that the gift of life, the birth of a baby, is the ultimate miracle that we get to enjoy and treasure every day and makes everything worth it.
Merry Christmas to young and old alike.
– Glenn Mitchell is the managing editor of The Morning Star. He writes a weekly column for the newspaper. firstname.lastname@example.org