“It doesn’t feel like Christmas,” my daughter pondered aloud on Festivus (Christmas Eve Eve, if you prefer). After a few moments of trying to put her finger on it, she decided, “It’s because it got here too quickly.”
I stopped myself from going into a long, tangential monologue about accursed Time, saving her yet another round of Mom Quotes Beckett.
Her sentiments were, as usual, exactly on point. This holiday did come and go with a speed only paralleled by my eldest cat’s entry into the kitchen upon anyone nearing the cat food cabinet.
There was something else in the air as well, this year, brought on by those changes that happen with years passing and children growing older (and I’m growing older, too – thank you Stevie Nicks). As of this year, my munchkins are officially munchkins no longer, and they are all so very committed to being All Grown Up (TM). While we occasionally make light-hearted references to Santa and elves, it’s now completely “cool” for them to directly thank me for the gifts and rather “uncool” to give the old guy in the red suit any genuine credit whatsoever.
The childlike, delightfully selfish Christmas magic of getting remembered by a mystical figure from the north, or making believe like they do to protect the innocent younger ones, is now at an end — replaced by something else. Something more grateful, more selfless and self-aware, and yet also bittersweet in comparison to years gone by when at least one of them couldn’t contain themselves from jumping and squealing when coming down the stairs and discovering the meticulously wrapped loot. (None of this prevented me, of course, from directing them in a jump of joy on the count of three, and to their credit, they complied with only the slightest roll of the eye.)
Meanwhile, despite their new dedication to handling all things with calm and only the bare minimum of outward glee, I still managed to con my daughter into thinking she wasn’t going to get the gift that she has been asking me to get her for the past year, and put in the #1 spot on her wishlist (in capital letters, of course), buried in a box in a box (as is our tradition for her “big gift”), and captured that priceless moment of surprise and thrill when she realized what was inside.
And just like that, it felt like Christmas.