As a young boy, at Christmas, I was like any other child, anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus and the presents I had dreamed about for a whole year. And though the presents were always nice, it was the interaction with my parents and my brother; my aunts, uncles, cousins, and especially my grandparents that I enjoyed the most.
As an adult, however, Christmas became a holiday I dreaded―largely because most of those years were spent working in retail. In that world, Christmas season began not long after Halloween. By the time the holiday itself arrived, I’d had my fill of endless Christmas music playing to deaf ears, and robotic greetings of “Happy Holidays” offered to total strangers. Then I married, and my two sons were born, and for a while some of the magic returned (one year, I played Santa Claus for the local Chamber of Commerce; so convincing was I that my own offspring failed to detect the ruse). Sadly, there came a divorce and then, not long after, a re-marriage. Now I not only had a new wife, but two stepchildren, as well, and suddenly Christmas had changed again. It was a time of alternating Christmas visits and endless “arrangements” that had to be made for every December holiday (no need for details; those who’ve been divorced know them by heart). For sure, there were lots of good times―but just as often there were moments of remorse, anxiety, and disappointment.
Then came middle age, followed closely by early old age and retirement (something I never anticipated). Gradually, Christmas became fun again, and the aspects of the holiday that I always enjoyed most―time with friends and loved ones―returned in abundance. At last, I could look forward to Christmas without the negatives. All our kids were grown, with wives and husbands, and significant others. There were lots of retired friends with whom we could celebrate. Get togethers with our kids were pretty much at our convenience, lots of travel, of course, but the joy of the holiday was alive and well. And that is how it has stayed―until this year.
Suddenly, I can hardly wait for Christmas to arrive. Tonight, I erected the tree and hung all the LED lights; and a beautiful tree it is―even nicer than it was last year (even though it’s the same tree). It seems like each time I assemble the pieces, I find a way to make it look even better than the year before. As I write this, there is beautiful Christmas music playing on the stereo as Becky decorates the tree, and soon we’ll be “making rather merry” (with apologies to Charles Dickens) when our adult daughter flies in from Seattle for a four-day visit. Unfortunately, my stepson will not be with us. He’ll be with his aging dad in New Jersey.
Tomorrow night is the annual viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, and on Christmas Eve we’ll watch A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim (his Scrooge is the only one worth watching; the rest are just humbug!). Then, on Tuesday, the three of us travel to nearby Charlotte to visit my wife’s sister and her husband, and their daughter and her children. Afterward, we’ll visit my two sons and their wives on the other side of the city. But there’s nothing unusual there; we do that nearly every year.
So what’s changed? Well, it’s not exactly what has changed; it’s more like what has arrived―or rather who. A little over four weeks ago, our youngest son and his wife blessed us with our first grandchild, a beautiful baby girl. The meaning of Christmas has come full circle, only now we will experience it through the eyes of a child.
Ain’t life grand?
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas holiday, filled with friends, family, and lots of good times!