"Where Are You, Christmas?"
I think getting older sucks. I mean, there are obvious benefits -- like being able to eat at restaurants whenever you feel like it - or have ice cream in the middle of the day (and probably loads of other non-food-related perks I'm missing) but for other reasons - like Christmas, for instance - being older sucks.
I am the youngest of three, having two older brothers. When we were little, I remember the weeks leading up to Christmas. My brother J & I would make secret missions to my Mom's closet or to the attic to see where she was hiding the loot. I remember as clearly as could be, the day in December, 1982 - when J spied my Mom lugging in the E.T. doll I had been begging for.
I remember when I was little, Christmas Eve was the most exciting day of the year. At night, we'd all get dressed up to go to the Candlelight Service at the Methodist church (my Mom is Methodist, and we three were baptised - although I was the only one who followed through on Sunday School and was confirmed. My Dad was a non-practising Jew. He used this fact when it was convenient for him -- like if he didn't like what was for dinner, he all of a sudden became kosher -- but some years, he'd come to church with us on Christmas Eve). I remember the church was always packed to the seams - SRO - and it always looked so magical with the glowing candles everywhere and the pointsettias strewn around.
We'd get home and head off to bed. My bedroom was upstairs across the hall from my parents. I remember creeping to the foot of my bed, struggling to hear them lug the bounty of presents out of the attic and down to the living room. I half-believed in Santa at this point -- even though I knew what they were up to. That was the beauty of being a little kid -- things didn't have to make complete sense all the time.
And every year, J would be the one to come bounding up the stairs before 6 AM to wake me up (so that I, in turn, could wake up my parents). We'd gather in the living room and tear into shit -- just like all kids probably do. We'd have Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and Swift Premium Brown & Serve sausages for breakfast. Then we'd spend the day playing with our toys, watching TV, trading naps. In the evening, my cousins and aunt would come over for dinner - sometimes more relatives - sometimes fewer. It didn't matter -- it was just this feeling of warmth, safety and magic that kind of hung in the air.
I truly miss what Christmas used to be. Last night, I did get to the Candlelight Service - even played trumpet in a last-minute brass quartet. Sadly, the church was more than half-empty. My oldest brother B came with his 'lady friend', and my Mom sang with the choir. But something was missing -- where did the magic go? I sat and listened to the sermon but felt nothing. We got home and went to sleep. This morning, I woke up on my own around 8:00 and the house is quiet. B is at his lady's house, Mom still asleep.
J is married now, and they have an amazing son, my awesome nephew "Bean" -- kids make Christmas fun. Last year I was living with The Brit and we had his 11-year old son with us on Christmas. It was kind of neat to have my own little family. Maybe that's the idea - and what I am missing. I guess now it's up to me to make my own kind of Christmas. Maybe I'm trying too hard to hold onto what my parents' version of Christmas -- as awesome as it was.
In any case, I'm where I am [Limbo] but I will not be here forever. So make the most of what I DO have: enjoy the family that is still with us, and make Christmas great for Bean so that one day when he's a bitter, blogging 30-year old, he can recall some great memories too.
Merry Christmas - I hope this day can be special for you.