As our Christmas morning festivities drew to a close sometime around 3:30 PM on December 25th, I felt that familiar sensation of post-yuletide sadness beginning to set in. Many of our extended family celebrations just aren’t what they used to be (or cease to exist), the holiday gifting/decorating inspirations that gave me hope a week ago are no longer relevant, and the duties that await me at home are slowly but surely finding their way back to the forefront of my mind.
It’s not that I’m sad no more presents are coming. It’s not that I’m disappointed with anything I did or didn’t receive. It’s not that things didn’t go according to plan, or that I didn’t accomplish all that I wanted to by this day. It’s simply that it’s over – that this day we’ve all been waiting for since October has suddenly come and gone in a matter of less than 24 hours.
Our ritualized anticipation of Christmas is nearly subconscious. We’ve been trained to rejoice in the prolonged preparation for the season – to the point that the actual holiday becomes not the beginning, but the end. We celebrate and plan and lead up to this one day, to find that, suddenly, it’s all over. The familiar carols stop playing on the radio, the feel-good movies are replaced with Lifetime Original murder documentaries, and all the decorations come down. It’s so sudden, it almost hurts. And once we’re adults, we painfully anticipate this letdown before it can even begin.
So it’s in moments like this that I must remind myself why this day set aside for deep connection and togetherness actually matters so much to me.
Because now that I’m older and realize that time is moving so fast – why am I letting it all pass me by without appreciating each moment for just what it is in the here and now?
This Christmas is a special one for us: my brother is back home from Florida for the first time in years, my fiance is sitting beside me, I’m wise enough to realize that I’m creating memories every moment, and old enough to worry that I may not have taken advantage of the times I should have done this in the past.
I’m finding myself to be nostalgic to a fault – wishing for days gone by, wondering how I can make every tradition last, stressing up until the last minute in the hopes that I can recreate every seemingly perfect detail. I realize that I’ve been pushing myself towards a state that is anything but mindful, anything but calm, and anything but present. Already I’m sitting here looking back on the last several weeks and ahead to the coming ones, worried about what’s past and what’s next, rather than embracing every seemingly insignificant moment that’s happening right here and right now.
Christmas, to me, really isn’t about the gifts. It’s about the thrill of the mad rush of last-minute cookie baking, the tiresome late-night present wrapping and gossip, the almost-fights, the laughs around the dinner table, the ritualistic quoting of four consecutive viewings of ‘A Christmas Story,’ the stories of years gone by shared and re-shared and shared once again, and the opportunities we take to soak in each and every interaction with the ones we love.
So maybe, if we can learn to let go of the fact that The Big Day is “over,” then we can begin to embrace all those little moments in the days surrounding it – the moments we’ll wish we could have more of in years to come, the moments we relive in pictures and stories, year after year.
As I write this post and stay mindful of the memories I’ve made over the last several weeks, my wish for you, too, is that you might find that same calm in these post-Christmas days, and hold onto that feeling amidst all those future precious moments we waste consumed by the next big thing.
Merry Christmas – Happy New Year – Here’s to seeing to the future in 20/20.
(By the way, my man PAINTED this cooler. And then he dressed up like an Elf on the Shelf. How lucky am I to have memories like this?)