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By the time you read this, Christmas will be a memory. I’ll be curled up on my couch, chastising myself for eating so much and thinking about leftovers. The post-festive haze will have set in, and I’ll be incapable of completing a single thought. Ah, yes, blissed out and lost in a mild comatose state.

Well, there will be at least one thought: Oo, my poor tummy! It wasn’t meant to stretch this far. What was I thinking? I was thinking that candied yams and stuffing are delicious, obviously.

Before I get completely befuddled by the seasonal delights, I should be a tad bit productive. However, it might be too late for that. It appears that I’m experiencing a bit of a glitch. It’s a few days before the big day, and my brain has reverted to a childlike state. Christmas means holidays. Holidays mean that schools are out. When schools out, I don’t have to think about anything other than: Merry Ho Ho Ho.

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That’s how it’s supposed to work, isn’t it? That’s how it worked when I was a wee little thing. Work hard through the fall and then completely shut down when the first inflatable reindeer pops up on the neighbour’s lawn. I figured that was the law or something.

Ah, if only that were the case.

When I became an adult? I think that was the biggest disappointment. Discovering that life didn’t power down for two weeks during the Christmas break. When we were kids, school would end and the happiest time of year began. We slept in late or got up early to watch cartoons. We ate breakfast in front of the tv and stayed in our pyjamas all day. There were games and stories to fill the hours. Responsibilities? Ha, they’re on vacation.

Did I notice that my parents still went to work? Nope, it never occurred to me because the usual tropes were ticked off the list. We hung the multi-coloured lights with care, decorated the tree, and hung our stockings by the fireplace. We put cookies out for Santa and chopped up carrots for his reindeer. 

As far as I was concerned, life stopped with the first ho ho ho.

Turns out, it was an illusion. No, let’s put a happier spin on it. That was the miracle and magic of Christmas. Our childlike wonder tinted our gaze with candy canes and elves. We were kids being kids at the kiddiest time of year.

A part of me still feels that way when I see the lights go up and hear Christmas songs on the radio. My brain slows down to a sluggish crawl, and I have to resist the urge to stamp my feet and exclaim in my whiniest voice, “But I don’t wanna!”

I’m not even a Christmas person. My home isn’t decorated for the season, and I can’t remember the last time I put a tree up. I haven’t even had a sip of eggnog yet. That’s all I can stomach, one small cup of nog a year, and I’m good, but I haven’t even done that.

Nope, the Christmas spirit rarely infects me, which might be a poor choice of words. It’s too soon to talk about anything infectious. Even in the happy, yay-yay times? Fine, let’s just say I’ve never been possessed by it because that sounds less creepy. 

Let’s put it another way, shall we? I’m not a holiday person. There, that seems like a safer way to say it. Less diseased, exorcism, head rotating 360 degrees while spitting up neon green goop. It just makes me sound like Scrooge before he was visited by the three spectres of Christmas cheer. 

I’m not grumpy or bah humbug about around the holidays. I don’t poo-poo your joy. You do you, and I wish you the merriest of whatever you celebrate.

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I, however, forgot that it was coming. I’ve been struggling to function or motivate my brain to produce something that vaguely resembles intelligence. I couldn’t figure out why I was so sluggish. Was I sick? Did I catch you know what? This is it. The end is nigh!

Hold up, drama queen. Do you see what I see? Hm, yeah, those are inflatable decorations and sparkly lights. And what does that mean? Oh crap, it’s Christmas! I forgot to order the presents, and it’s too late now. They won’t get here in time. How did I forget the biggest, most commercialized holiday of the year?

It would seem that the remnants of my childhood wonder have a purpose. It slowed me down long enough to come to my senses and not ruin the holiday for my loved ones. Not that they care about presents, but it’s the one part of this holiday that I like. 

I enjoy finding just the right thing for each person. Whether it’s something I buy or make, it’s fun to spoil the special people in my life. I’m so lucky to have them, and while I don’t have much, I want to make them smile. That’s something, and after a tumultuous few months, a smile is everything.

If a grown man can travel the world and slip down chimneys in one night? Anything is possible!

I just want them to be happy, which is why I was kicking myself in a panic. How could I forget that it was Christmas? It’s everywhere, isn’t it? Wait, it’s usually more in my face. There should be songs playing loudly from invisible speakers. Stores should be covered in tinsel. At least three people should be walking down the street wearing Santa hats.

Where’s the cheer and the merriment? Where’s the ho ho ho? How come no one asked me if I’m ready for Christmas? How come everyone I talk to is saying, “Oh crap, it’s Christmas!”

It would seem that I’m not the only one who misplaced the spirit of the season. There will be a lot of coal stuffed into stockings this year. Prepare for a sleepless night and three unwelcome guests who need to learn about boundaries. Oh dear me, we are a sorry lot, aren’t we?

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It just doesn’t feel the same, for some reason. At least not where I am. Here, it’s been a muted festive season. A time of quiet reflection as we marvel at how fast time has moved. It also feels like it’s still March 2020, and the last two years have been a mass hallucination. There’s a level of disbelief and exhaustion that’s dulled our sense of wonder. We’re going through the motions, but there doesn’t seem to be much heart in it.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying this with any kind of judgement. It’s more of a curiosity than anything else. There seems to be this collective exhaustion that’s washed over us, and it’s sucked the merry out of our ho ho ho. It’s understandable, given everything we’ve been through. We’ve been running a marathon, and our stamina has been stretched farther than we thought possible. We’re slowing down and coming to a complete stop.

And that’s not a bad thing. 

As a kid, Christmas was about family, food, presents, and life stopping its relentless spin. Our young lives shut down, and we simply enjoyed the small things like staying in our pj’s all day and stealing one of Santa’s cookies. Oo, and trying to stay awake long enough to catch the jolly big guy red-handed, but failing every time.

I miss the innocence, the purity and simplicity of that kind of joy. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks indulging in nostalgia just so I can recapture that feeling one more time. I’ve watched movies and tv shows from way back when. I went to a store that sells South African foods to taste my childhood again. After everything, I need to be that naive little girl again.

Do you ever want to do that? Create a way-back machine in your mind and escape reality for a little while. Go back to a time in your life when you were innocent, silly, and blissfully unaware. I don’t know about you, but that sounds kind of perfect to me.

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Most of my childhood was messy, painful, and full of complications. There weren’t many times of innocence, but Christmas was the one time I could forget all about it. Nothing I was going through mattered because this was a season of magic and miracles. If a grown man can travel the world and slip down a million chimneys in one night? Anything is possible!

Again, as an adult, I’m not a Christmas person or a person that likes any holidays. However, I need to believe in magic and miracles for one night. Just one day of being silly, childish, and believing that everything will be okay. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. I just have to believe because I’m too tired to do anything else.

Do you know what I mean?

I hope you found some joy in this holiday season and a little magic or a miracle as well. I wish you the happiest, merriest whatever you celebrate. Take care of yourself, and I’ll see you next year. 

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