Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Stages of Christmas

Being off work gives me the time to muse and ponder. We appear to at the time of our life where we are having an "Un Christmas".

When you are child Christmas is the high point of the year. You can't wait, you listen for Santa Claus, you help pick out the perfect tree and thrill at the sight of the ornaments reappearing each year. Christmas is cookies, carols, presents all add up to total and utter excitement.

You go to college and Christmas means going home, sleeping late and relaxing. Yes, the tree and ornaments are important but so is sleeping late, eating your Mom's cooking, catching up with all your friends and of course presents ( you fervently hope for some of the green folding kind).

Then there is "Our First Christmas" together. You put up a tree, by your first ornaments, shop for the perfect present and cook your first Christmas dinner. Much to your amazement, it turns out quite nicely; thank you very much.

You have your own children and pressure begins. You want their Christmas to be magical, perfect in the best Norman Rockwell, Leave it to Beaver, Tiny Tim, It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street tradition. You bake, you decorate, you take them to see Santa Claus, you spring for a velvet dress for the annual picture and Nutcracker expedition. You scour the stores for that one Rainbow Brite Color Kid they do not have and want so desperately. You take them tree shopping and decorate it while carols play in the background. You wrap presents, watch the children shake them, find stocking stuffers and take a zillion pictures. It’s all great fun but somehow you never quite measure up to your expectations.

Said children grow up, go to college and graduate and begin their own lives.
Trying to figure out what clothes are acceptable or what the latest electronic gizmo that’s needed by Generation Y is an exercise in futility so you opt for gift cards. Baking seems rather pointless, what with the extra 20 lbs that you are suddenly packing.

And then you realize Christmas isn’t about all the stuff, the trappings and the trimmings. It’s about realizing your children are all grown up and doing a good job of making their own way in the world. It’s about having a few days of leisure, looking Your Beloved napping on the sofa and realizing that life is very, very good indeed.

Christmas – no tree necessary.

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