And last year I said it would not happen again. I wouldn't let it. That was going to be the last time. What happened again? The same thing that has happened every year for about the last decade.
The whole month of December just flew by and now I finally realized that Christmas is just two days away and I just missed it. Missed what? The shopping is done, the food is all bought, tree and lights are up, cards are sent. What did I miss?
Think back to when you were a child. December seemed like such a long month. Christmas was never going to get here. You got so caught up in the whole experience of it. You saw the lights, the Nativity sets, sat on Santa's lap at the mall, walked around downtown with Mom and Dad looking at all of the decorations and maybe even skated a bit at the rink on Fountain Square. You peered with wide eyed wonder through the window of the CG&E building at the train set and you saw the talking reindeer at Pogue's. Maybe some nights you would just go around your neighborhood and see all of the different decorations up at people's houses. Decorating your own house was such a joy as well. Mom and Dad would get the boxes out of the garage and attic and then you would just go to town with it all. Putting all of the ornaments on the tree, each one of them with its own history and memories attached to it, was always a time when bickering and mean spiritedness would take a back seat.
For those of us so inclined, the church building always looked its best during that month too, the advent wreath, the tree, and especially singing Silent Night by candlelight at midnight on Christmas Eve. Leaving the church and seeing the red light on an airplane in the sky and proclaiming, "Look Mom, it's Rudolph!"
It was always such a long month, so full of magic and wonder, and all we wanted was for it to pass faster so we could tear into everything on Christmas morning. Now I look back on the last month and it's been just like any other month of the year, with the exception of a little more shopping. Go to work, go home, pay the bills, rinse and repeat. I realize as I sit here listening to carols on the radio that once again I missed it. I just went through the month without taking the time to marvel at the lights, to immerse myself in the wonder of the season and soak it all in. The concerns of every day life just choked it out until now, two days away from Christmas day, I'm sad because it's almost over and soon it will be time to pack everything away until next year. For this brief time each year the gloom and bleakness of winter is dispelled by bright lights and looks of wonder on the faces of children. I have been granted the elusive wish of my childhood. December now flies by and Christmas morning arrives quickly. Then it is gone, the lights go off, and it's just plain old winter for a couple more months. What we realize when we become adults is that the joy of Christmas is in the journey and not in the destination. If I would have understood that as a child, perhaps I would have cherished those Decembers that much more. It goes by too fast now. And once again I blinked and missed it. Next year I will try not to blink.