How the Grinch stole Christmas

I suppose I'm not the only one who gets a letdown at the end of Christmas and New Year's. But it's just hitting me harder this year the distance between me and the Christmases of yore, when everything was perfect.

It seems to me that between the ages of 4 and 14, we had maybe one green Christmas. Now it seems every year the ground is brown. I'd be willing to buy into any environmental plan of Gore's just to get myself some more white Christmases.

What's more, Christmas was just more fun. I'd get up, we'd all open our stockings, have some breakfast, then go off to one of the grandparent's houses, open presents, then head off to another grandparent's house. I'd watch TV until we all opened presents, then more TV until dinner, then more TV until we left at the end of the night, then I'd fall asleep on the long car ride home.

Now, Christmas is spread over a couple of weeks. Between the death of various grandparents, divorces, and general family strife, there's rarely a lot of family around for each event. We visit when we we can, hang around for awkward conversation for a while, hand over gifts to each other (no one's really excited about this one - since we don't know each other anymore, how would we know what to get each other?) We're not even really welcome to visit my dad's stepfather and his children and grandchildren, because, after all, we aren't really his grandchildren. He still sends cards, though he's stopped signing them "Granky," but instead by his first name. How cordial.

I miss Christmas. I miss the joy and wonder of it all, when I was an annoying little towhead who couldn't sit still long enough to wait for his turn for presents to come around again. When Christmas was just fun, and there weren't any strings attached.

I suppose I'm showing my youth rather than my age. I suppose every Christmas I had was probably more like the one I just had, I just never realized it when I was young. I remember whispered conversations that my parents had in the front seat when they thought that we'd fallen asleep, talking about who was just about to lose his job, or had entered AA, or might be getting a divorce. I suppose every Christmas was just the same. And it makes sense that New Year's Eve was a big deal, since someone who's bedtime is 8:15 is going to be awfully excited to stay up 'til midnight. Nowadays, that's the goal if I'm aiming for an early night. No wonder, it's a let down. Speaking of which, it's midnight now. Happy January 3rd.

I guess I just miss innocence. I wish I could have a pure and simple Christmas. Snow on the ground, fire in the fireplace, all of us opening presents, laughing and joking - and nothing on my mind but the moment. I wish that most of all.