Well, only how many days left till Christmas? It seems that there is a natural aging progression to Christmas. When I was a child, Christmas was just a magical time. My uncle was a logger, and he would send us a Christmas tree in the mail, all wrapped in burlap when we lived in San Francisco. There was always a hubbub, to get the into the tree stand, to get the tree decorated and lit with colored lights. Then my mom would would always meticulously put on long, silver tinsel. And it had to be just so. Presents would pile up under the tree. My mom would make cookies from the family recipes and her trusty Betty Crocker cookbook. We opened our presents on Christmas Eve and there were always so many.
Then, I became an adult, and Christmas was still a big deal but then, there was stress along with the activity. The stress came from having to pay for all those presents and having to do all that shopping. But, still, I was young and married and Christmas was still a time to expect and hope for things young married people wanted and needed. We would go to craft faires and even make our own decorations. (I still have a 1/2 painted bowtie maccaroni noodle my nephew made in pre-school. My niece meticulously painted her entire bowtie noodle red. Then, the teacher glued on a ribbon to hang the bowtie) We bought babies 1st Christmas ornaments, made arrangements for present opening and dinner schedules with everyone's in-laws. Then, after the presents were opened and the food eaten, we planned our post-Christmas assault on the mall and department stores for those 1/2 off sales.
Gradually, the kids became teenagers and then adults. We didn't spend the hours shopping for Barbie outfits and remote control cars. Gifts became gift cards and then cash so they could buy their own stuff. God forbid, I didn't want to buy them the same Limp Bizkit CD they already had. And, the adults? We don't need to wait for Christmas anymore. We all just get what we want for ourselves anyway.
Then, 5 years ago, just before Christmas, the doctor told my mom she had pancreatic cancer. So, not only did we lose her later next year, it was perhaps our worst Christmas memory. So, I guess when my 95-year old aunt said after Thanksgiving, one holiday down, one to go. I understood all too well what she meant. No amount of Christmas cheer or mountains of gifts will take away missing those who are gone. And, yes, time makes the pain lessen. This year, I actually bought a Christmas wreath and hung it on the door. Progress! I was going to decorate for Christmas last year, but my dad decided to spend Christmas in the cardiac ICU. But, I think I will poop out on the tree. No point in tempting fate. Maybe next year. Because, as of yet, I haven't done one bit of Christmas shopping.