I often miss childhood Christmases when an eternity passed before Christmas arrived, and Christmas Eve moved so slowly that I could count each minute. Even in college, I was desperate for Christmas to come and savored campus traditions like Yule Log and Grand Illumination.
Something happened after college. I started working, and suddenly, Christmas emerged like an unwelcome guest. I always felt unprepared for its arrival. I began to long for the days when I lived with my siblings and my parents. My mother had the gift of decorating the house in such a way that the decorations seemed to become part of the organism that was our home.
I often wonder why I no longer relish the anticipation of Christmas. I miss that feeling the way I miss friendships I have lost. I realize now that the expectation of Christmas was not about gifts or other tangible things that come and go, but rather, it was a desire for the community of family and that inexplicable cozy and secure feeling that accompanies the holidays.
Each year, I try to discover that feeling, but I usually fail. This year, I bought a bright red bow with red glitter all over it from the Dollar Tree and hung it in my room. It looks festive, but it did not bring the cheer I recall from my youth.
Sometimes, I feel guilty that I am not excited about Christmas—about the day of Christ’s birth. Certainly, his birthday is more important than my feelings, and ideally, I should be as excited as an adult as I was as a child, but I am not. And while I love Christ more now than I did then, I do not know how to reconcile this love with this longing for the past.
Maybe this childhood anticipation I cannot redeem is merely a sign of my age. I am not the child I once was; I navigate challenges that my pig-tailed self knew nothing about, and because of that ignorance, she was free from the distractions that emerge with time.
But maybe, this year, I’ll find her again. I’ll start by relocating festive bow I purchased to the spot above my desk so that I can see it from where I sit on my bed.