From the time I was a small child to well into my twenties, I was a Christmas junkie. I loved the holiday season — the Christmas carols, the elaborately decorated shops, the abundance of good food (primarily the kind loaded with sugar and fat), shopping for family and friends, the proverbial “good cheer,” even the crowded malls. I couldn’t get enough of it.
When Dec. 26 came, I was in full-blown despair. Christmas was over. Over! Hearing Christmas carols, which my parents played through til the new year, nearly brought me to tears. Discarded Christmas trees, sitting sadly on the sidewalk , strands of tinsel still attached to their drooping branches, sunk me deep into depression. (What can I say, I was a weird kid.)
How much has changed. Perhaps it’s simply a sign of getting older, but over the last several years I’ve often wished I could just fast forward through the month of December–from the time Thanksgiving ends, really, until today, Jan. 2, when life returns to what we know as “normal.”
Because the holidays are stressful. There is all the shopping to do, the crowded roads and crowded malls, the meals to make, the extended family to visit, the holiday cards to mail, the travel planning, the New Year’s Eve planning. And then there’s that one radio station that starts playing Christmas music non-stop before Thanksgiving has even started. It’s enough to make you long for the days when Starbucks stops serving pumpkin spice lattes.
But as my six-year-old reminded me last night, “The holidays can be nice.” He’s right–and ours was very nice this year, spent with my family in my hometown, San Diego. And as I reminded myself, there are many people in this world–including twenty sets of parents in Newtown, Conn.–for whom life will never be “normal” again.
I usually deposit my Christmas tree on the sidewalk on the first day of the new year, not wanting to drag out the holidays any longer. This year, I’m reconsidering. I think I’ll keep it up a little longer.