Denouement…

With the emptying of Christmas stockings we have marked the final stage of the holiday celebrations.  The card for the Twelfth Day of Christmas was placed on the board last night and J had a bit of a moody moment because of it…again: it’s over.  This year, however, the Twelve Days have come as the end of a string of disappointments or, better said, deflations.  I think we all share the feeling, and we’re walking away from the holidays with the realization that, once more, we have to change something.

Erma Bombeck wrote: “There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”   I don’t think I ever truly understood what she meant until this particular morning.  I think until today I still had the illusion that we could stretch out the wondrous feeling of Christmas.  Oh, I’m not talking about what it means…I’m talking about how J has joined the ranks of those of us who have to find something else to be enthused about at Christmas.

My husband and I talk about it as “the Christmas we started getting clothes as presents.”  This doesn’t mean someone gave us a shirt, this means that clothes were the obligatory bulk of the presents we received.  You know!  THAT Christmas.  The Christmas when you realized it was not to be the same kind of Christmas you’d experienced as a child, with joy and surprise and magic in it.  I think J has had that Christmas.  It’s not that the presents weren’t nice, it’s just that he can no longer feel about them the way he used to, even when he enjoys them.

It’s not that it hasn’t been fun.  It just hasn’t been Christmas as he knew it…in his heart.  Much like the arrival of adolescence, with all its changes and alterations to our self-image, this Christmas has raised in J the awareness that the world (within and without him) has changed.  Does that make sense?

He was excited this morning about the Pop Rocks in his stocking, and he was excited last night with the fuzzy pillow case we gave him, but there was certain sadness in the way he opened that last gift.  He seemed to be saying “crap!  It’s over and I just didn’t feel it.”  I think it was the same for all of us…we finished handing out and opening presents only to look at each other and say “ok…THAT is done.”

What now?  Is next Christmas destined to be yet another arid wasteland of shrug-inducing presents?  Possibly.  The house is now populated with people who are older, wiser and have moved on to new stages in their lives.  Perhaps we are not to have another thrilling Christmas until we have grandchildren.

For now, I think, we are ok with this.  Like every other Christmas, we won’t forget this one.  True, the reasons will be a little sadder…no: wistful…we will remember this Christmas wistfully.  The feeling is similar to how Adam and Eve must’ve felt when they realized they were butt-ass naked and they could never forget what not knowing they were butt-ass naked felt like.  We are wise to it now, and Christmas is more of a grown-up thing now…

Tomorrow we’ll take the tree down and put away the decorations until next year.  We will vacuum the pine needles off the carpeting, fold the tree skirt (ok, it’s just some yardage of red sackcloth,) carefully pack away the few breakables…and we’ll get ready for the new year.

J will decide how he wants to face this process.  Maybe he will be glad it’s over; maybe he’ll mourn a little.  The end of Christmas is never fun…there is always nostalgia involved.  The older you get, the more nostalgic you feel.  I, for one, remember all the people I’ve loved and lost, and my Christmases are inevitably populated with ghosts (not of the Dickens variety.)  Next Christmas will be populated with the ghosts of the family we used to be, the people who used to cheer when each present was opened, who could look at the tree and see more than just strings of lights and a potential fire hazard.

We’ll get it back.  Eventually.  This has just been THAT Christmas.  The Christmas when we all crossed into adulthood with J; the Christmas when he has relinquished the illusion and wonderment of childhood and we are all forced to go there with him…

We’ll survive…

Until then, my friends, Merry Christmas…it is, after all, in the heart that one has to find it and keep it.  Maybe next year we will just truly make it about those out there who can’t find it anywhere, and that will be how we find our illusion and our miracles again…

 

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