I wake early on Christmas morning, listening for the excited whispers of the children.
“Do you think we can wake them up?”
“Can we sneak downstairs?”
“Do you think Santa really came?”
But there are no whispers now. Just silence as our grown children sleep, sprawled on sofas and in guest bedrooms. No one wakes early. They negotiate the evening before on how early they want to open presents. On Christmas morning, they shuffle into the kitchen, grab coffee, and mumble, “Merry Christmas” before they shuffle to the family room.
Their stockings are full of practical items, like dental floss and socks and first aid kits. They open their gifts, still taking turns, pretending they don’t know what’s in the boxes. But they do. They text links to websites where you can buy the exact item they want or need. The only surprise is the little box with some cash, which is greeted with the most excitement of the morning. Gift opening over, we grab more coffee and a little breakfast then stake out spots on the sofa for a day of Christmas movies and binge watching Game of Thrones.
This is Christmas Present, and I truly miss Christmas Past.
For the most part, I am perfectly happy with the place we find ourselves. Our kids are figuring out the world and their places in it. They seem relatively content and heading in the right direction. They stay connected with texts and calls.
But, this year, I really pined for a Christmas from the past. The one with the ever-changing wishlist of toys and games. The one where the stockings were full of trinkets and treasures discovered in dollar stores and gift shops all year long. The one where the children rushed into the family room to see if Santa really ate the cookies. The one where squeals of joy greeted every gift. The one where we figured out new board games and assembled Lego sets.
I long for the Ghost of Christmas Past to visit again, but I’m guessing that he or she will show up as Christmas Future — the very distant future, I hope — when we can celebrate with grandchildren. Until that day I’ll enjoy our holidays with the Ghost of Christmas Present, grabbing my fleece throw and a corner of the sofa. I’ll cherish every moment, knowing that each one is the best gift I could ever receive on Christmas. I’ll remember that time flies so quickly and that the only constant is change. I’ll remind my mom friends to savor the chaos of Christmas Present because too soon these memories will be Christmas Past.
Lastly, I’ll resolve to fill the new year by looking forward with anticipation and by leaving behind any pining for the past. Because truly, the best is always yet to come.