For children, Christmas is a time filled with anticipation, magic and wonders. The 24th is day full of excitement waiting for presents to be opened in the evening. Many children recieve outdoor equipment, whether its skis or snowracers. Others get toys, clothes, candy or even a new iPad. The holiday always feels longer than it really is for kids. The fridge is packed with good food, and the parents are often more leanient on sweets during this wonderfull week.
I remember Christmas as a child with the outmost joy and wonder. Those magical hours on the 24th of December before opening my presents in the evening. The distinctive smell of traditional food in the house all day. My mother singing Christmas carols to herself in the kitchen. Maybe an hour outside on my slalom skis during the daytime. Opening presents in the evening and being in utter shock when I actually get that Super Nintendo game I wished for. Looking at my younger brother being in awe over having Santa visiting and giving him presents. Eating leftovers on the first day of Christmas watching the Narnia series on TV. The countryside is always covered in deep, white snow with little to no traffic on the nearby road. Christmas seemed to go on forever, and then came New Years. It never stopped.
It is perhaps an undeniable truth that the distinctive feel of the holidays disappear once you get older. The years go by quicker, and those specific emotions you have as a child never really catch you the same way when you’re grown up. You may, if you are lucky, get sense of the old times when you’ve all grown up, but it’s never really like it used to be. Maybe you’re trying your best as a parent to bring that certain excitement to your own children but not feeling you are suceeding. If you haven’t started your own family, perhaps those feelings and doings of Christmas simply fade away.
I used to be married to a foreigner with no emotional or tradiational connection to Christmas. She didn’t know of, and did not have any fond memories of the holiday and what it could bring. She had no connection to the classic movies on TV. No understanding of the Christmas calendar TV series prior to the 24th. She had no interest in the traditional Norwegian meals. As there were no children involed, there was no real sense of good old Christmas except for those short visits to my parents. Perhaps it would have been different if I had a children. I would have made sure that they too experienced those wonders and excitements like I did when I was young. I would have caught on again as well, and it would have felt more like Christmas – this time seeing it through the eyes of my own child.
The Christmas holidays, for me, have been fading away for over a decade. Last year I didn’t even bother putting up a Christmas tree. There was no point in doing any of it – alone. I had time of work, but I don’t remember what I was doing except walking the dogs and feeling depressed. I didn’t do any of the things I did when I was young any longer. Heck, I didn’t even own a pair of skis any more, and I used to love being out on skis. It was all gone. Everything I loved about the holidays had gone, piece by piece. I never watched the movies or the classic TV series any more. There were no calendars to be opened before Christmas, and snowfall just meant damn trouble.
This year I got it all back.
My girlfriend decorated her house with Christmas bits and bobs in December. Her 7-year old daughter watched the Christmas TV series each evening, and I joined in. I watched the child open her small calendar presents in the mornings and looking at her being excited about what she got. I made homemade beer like my mother used to do, and her mother before her. On the 21st I got out and bought a great but (rather expensive!) Christmas tree. The first time I have ever done so. I brought it back to my girlfriends house just like in the America movies. On the 22nd we decorated it, together. On the 24th we watched the classic TV series and movies together and laughed and smiled at the same cherished parts. I joined her her family for Christmas dinner, and I watched how Santa emerged from the forest with a small lamp to guide his way towards the house. I saw suspense in the childrens faces when Santa came inside the hallway with all the presents at hand. I watched the children opening their presents in excitement and wonder. We finished the celebrations at four am in the morning.
Between Christmas and New Years, I got out and did the unthinkable. I bought a pair of cross country skis. The first skis I have bought since I was 15 years old. On New Years eve, in the daylight and between thick, snow covered trees, we went out on skis. My first time since I can’t even remember. We visited my parents for coffee and Christmas cookies, and watched the fireworks together on New Years eve. Not blotto with a half full champagne bottle in hand and a drunk mate puking in the bathrom. No, just us together and quite sober alongside one of her best friend and her family of two children and a her husband.
Christmas 2017 was the first time since I was a teenager that I’ve felt that special Christmas feeling.
Thank you for giving it back to me. I love you.