The Christmas tree, the stockings — including the “Meow” one for Sasha that everyone likes so much — and the candles that come on by themselves when the light is low, meaning I don’t have to turn them on and off every night … they’re all put away now.
Suzi did most of the work on the tree, although I untwisted the lights from the branches, the beads and each other. Although they didn’t all go out when one went out, enough strings malfunctioned that we had to fill in the gaps with unused lights.
We’ve since acquired colored lights to replace the jury-rigged white ones, along with garland, so the tree will look different this year.
When I was a kid, the routine was usually the same for Christmas.
My brother and I would eat breakfast and open presents with our parents that morning, and then we’d go to a family friends’ house to visit and see what they got. Later, we’d open presents with my dad’s parents.
We’d finish the day with my other set of grandparents. Everyone lived in the same immediate area, so no one was more than 10 minutes away.
Needless to say, it was pretty exciting stuff, but least once, and I’m sure it was more, my uncle, who was nine years older and like the older brother I never had, admonished us that for as much fun as Christmas was, it was only one day, and pretty soon it would be over.
I don’t know if “buzzkill” was a term people used back then, but it was a buzzkill.
I had a strange thought the other day.
We did a lot of Christmas-themed stuff this year, from our usual Christmas specials to making sure to listen to festive music — even the weird songs we had never heard before — to admiring holiday lights.
And as I thought about what we did, I actually said to myself, “I don’t get to do any of that again for 11 months.” (I really hope I don’t feel the need to declare another Christmas amnesty this year, but even if I did, I’d refrain until after Thanksgiving.)
What made it strange was that, while I enjoy the Christmas season, I can usually compartmentalize well enough to set it aside once the new year begins. Even though it’ll always be fun to watch Rick Steves slide down a Swiss mountain with torches and a Christmas tree when the time comes again, I don’t miss it when it’s gone.
So why now?
Of course … the “vacation monastery.”
This last Christmas season, more than any other, we planned activities every day.
It was … something to look forward to.
And now, even though “Christmas” is now a season that starts Thanksgiving night and extends to New Year’s Day, like those Christmases of my childhood, it’s over.
So I don’t know what to look forward to each day now.