Ahhh Christmas. The season of peace, joy, good will towards others, not to mention eggnog, turkey, and twinkly lights, is upon us. I’m writing this little missive in early November, when we’ve only had a week or so of Christmas carols playing in the grocery stores. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas, but it does seem to start early and has a tendency to turn into a sprint to December 25th.
For children, Christmas may well be their favourite day of the year. And who can blame them? As a kid, I could barely contain myself as we approached the big day. We’d be sneaking around the house checking for presents in secret spots, and willing the days to move faster. We loved every minute of the season. I have vivid memories of coming down the stairs Christmas morning when my twin brother Tim and I were about eight years old. And there, poised on ribbon-festooned kickstands, were big, bright, sparkly red bicycles. Our first bikes! I’ll never forget the sight of them in front of the Christmas tree. In those first few instants after laying eyes on the two-wheeled wonders, I don’t remember thinking that they looked rather large. But I sure did later that day as we walked them out to the street, our hands on the handlebars high above our heads. They weren’t just large bikes. They were gargantuan. Our parents were clearly being economical when purchasing the bicycles and wanted to make sure we wouldn’t outgrow them. Trust me, LeBron James couldn’t outgrow our first bikes.
To compensate, my father had fashioned blocks of wood, and attached them to the pedals so we could almost, kind of, reach them with our toes. We needed a stepladder to get on the bikes and if we had to stop riding for some reason before returning to home base, it was a harrowing, toppling descent to the ground. When Tim and I finally got the hang of riding those big red bikes around our neighbourhood, we looked like an early Cirque du Soleil act rolling down the street. But we loved those shiny red bikes, and we certainly loved Christmas and everything that came with it.
As I’ve grown older and raised two sons who are now almost out of the house, my love for the season has moderated. I still love it, but man is it a lot of work to cross that tinseled finish line. For me, getting to Boxing Day, or as I call it, Decompression Day, is the real goal. It’s the “holiday” in my “holiday season.” After Christmas shopping – which depending when you do it, can be somewhat akin to hand-to-hand combat – holiday parties, the Christmas pageant at the church, and hosting turkey dinner for the whole clan, the real bliss begins when my eyes open on Boxing Day morning, or afternoon as the case may be. On more than one December 26th, I freely confess to spending all day in my pajamas, and loving every minute. It often feels like the first truly restful moment since the season began just after Halloween.
I have no idea how people muster the energy to line up at the mall early in the morning for the Boxing Day gatecrasher sales. More power to them, but I won’t be there. When the spirit moves me, I’ll eventually rustle up a plate of leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, turnip and gravy, slide it into the microwave, and dig in, before returning to the horizontal. I often receive books as Christmas gifts – nothing pleases me more – so with my appetite sated, I lose myself in a story, and all is right with the world. Now that’s my idea of the holiday season. And to all a goodnight.