Thirty-One (24 of 31)
It’s been a Christmas eve tradition over the past few years for us to spend the late afternoon and evening at my parents’ house and with my Aunt Debbie and her kids. Over the last couple years, as Stef and I have been trying to start a family of our own, and as I’ve been feeling, progressively, more and more old, spending time with the kids has been a double-edged sword: they represented all that was good about Christmas, and it was nice to be around that, but they also represented the part of Christmas that I had long ago lost.
Now, on the verge of finally having that child we have dreamed about, Christmas Eve has returned to being a purely wonderful thing. Yes, there is still trepidation about whether or not the kids will like our gifts (I made them mix CDs because we didn’t have a lot of money to spend this year; the youngest got Disney songs, the 14 year old got a “best of” Green Day disc to complement the copy of American Idiot that Grandma had just given her, and the 16 year old got the best songs I could find from the year he was born, 1989) but, in the end, it was a nice night, with very little of the sadness that’s plagued me in recent years.
Here’s an example of how I had been feeling in recent years, from Christmas Eve 2003. I’m glad I don’t feel so glum anymore.
Christmas came early when we were let out of work even more quickly than announced this morning. I was out by three o’clock and home wrapping the last of our gifts. This was good and I was in a half-way decent mood. Then Stef came home and we were faced with the trek over to my parents’ house. It’s not a long journey or a particularly hard one. I just hate traveling anywhere nowadays. I hate driving. I hate being in a car stuck behind morons who can’t drive. Once we got there, all would be better. That’s what I had to tell myself.
And it was better. I love spending time with my family. Mom, Dad, Grandma, and John were there, as were my Aunt Debbie, Uncle Wayne, and all of their kids. It’s become a Christmas Eve tradition for them to come over and exchange gifts and eat pizza and this year was no different. I love being around the kids. They’re who this whole holiday is for anyway.
And that thought is invariably what saddens me during the holidays. Holidays, and this one in particular, seem to me to be about the young, about youth and magic. I’ve lost what youth and magic I had in my body and I just feel old and normal. The whole thing crept up on me this year. I’ve been so busy with school and work that I hadn’t even noticed how close we were to Christmas until it was already upon us. And the day after Christmas I’ll be right back to work on my schoolwork as I try to prepare for the next residency at the beginning of January.
I always feel this way on Christmas Eve lately. Tomorrow morning I’ll feel better and things will go well. For now, it’s time to go to bed. It’s time to get some rest so I can enjoy what’s ahead of me.