That’s a cliche we all like to use to describe something that seems to take forever. But, in reality, once we reach a certain age it becomes more of an oxymoron, like military intelligence, a contradiction in terms. That’s because, once we become adults, we realize that there is nothing slow about Christmas.
The phrase, of course, stems from a child’s-eye view of Christmas, the anticipation of the big day when they finally get to rip into all those presents that have been tempting them with a siren’s call from underneath the tree for weeks. Even we adults can remember those agonizing weeks and days leading up to Dec. 25 when we used to torment our parents with the holiday equivalent of, “Are we there yet?” Then finally the morning would arrive and we’d be up at the crack of dawn, eschewing breakfast, normal hygiene and sometimes even clothes to jump into that pile of brightly colored seduction until every last present had been unveiled.
Maybe parents of small children still get a sense of that Christmas magic vicariously through their kids, but for most of us above the age of consent, Christmas is more like a runaway freight train with no brakes. Even though the first signs of Christmas start appearing earlier and earlier each year – I fully expect every year now to start hearing “Jingle Bells” as soon as the last strains of “The Star-Spangled Banner” finish on the Fourth of July – it always seems to come too soon and, if you’re like me, you’re never fully as prepared as you’d like to be when it does.
Oh, sure, we’ve bought enough presents for everyone that we won’t come off as too much of a Scrooge and, sure, we’ll remember this Christmas well into the new year, monthly, actually, when the bills come in, but let’s face it, it’ll never be the Christmas we remember as kids. Nowadays when most of us hear that Alvin and the Chipmunks (Alfie and the Tree Weasels as a friend of mine likes to call them) Christmas album we all used to listen to over and over, the only reaction it invokes to is play a game of Whack-A-Mole.
Of course, we as adults still enjoy Christmas. For many of us, it’s the only time we get to reconnect with friends and family during the year or fight with total strangers over a $7 toy hamster. But it’ll never be as magical as when we were kids. We now know that there are a finite number of gifts under the tree and once the last one is opened, it’s over, just as we all have a finite number of days, so why shouldn’t they all be Christmas instead of that awful waiting, and yearning, for just one each year?
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.