Just like the ones I used to know

Christmas LightsIt doesn’t feel much like Christmas in my house. A good deal of it is due to the chaos in our lives–I’ve been buried in my novel since early November, my husband’s workplace is busy, and my son’s high school workload has him buried in paper. Most of all, it’s because there aren’t children in our house anymore.

Having a young child is holiday Viagra. The activities that seemed routine and automatic take on new meaning. My son and I used to merge Deck the Halls and Extreme Home Makeover. Our house looked like it had been pranked by elves on crack. There was not a surface left uncovered by bows, lights, glitter or Santa. We would camp out under the Christmas tree and watch holiday videos and cry when the snowman melted.

He used to start his list sometime around Halloween and edit on a daily basis. I used an Advent calendar to help him keep track of the days before he understood that time moves slowly when you’re excited about something. He would wear a Santa hat and reindeer antlers to school without a trace of irony or embarrassment.

As of now, the house isn’t decorated, the tree is lit but bare and the Advent calendar chocolate is another form of breakfast he has no time for. There is very little he wants, and I see that as a good thing. Maturity (or his version of it) has dimmed his need for acquisition. We’ve done something right.

I miss his excitement, however, his mounting anticipation. I loved how he’d remember where we got each ornament. I am alone in humming Sleigh Ride.

Since I no longer have a small child, I will have to become one myself. It’s possible. I’ve done it before. The first year my husband and I were married, we didn’t get a tree because we’d be traveling to both sets of parents for the holidays. It was a practical decision. A week before Christmas, however,  I was beset by melancholy, so I decorated our scraggly Ficus. It died happy.

So beginning today, I will see Christmas through a child’s eyes and hope that it is contagious. I’ll skip the chocolate for breakfast, but will get those elves good and hyped. We’ve got some decorating to do.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Dena Burnett © 2005 Creative Commons