Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This year read more like a Bronte novel than a sitcom.

For the first time in my life, I wished that I weren't the youngest child in my family.

This Christmas, while full of thoughtful gifts and lovingly-made treats, was haunted with a heavy cloud. The cloud reeked with the passage of time and the inescapable end of a long era of familiarity for many of us in my family (that is, those of us who are not off living new lives with families of our own). Well, maybe I should just speak for myself. I moved out this year, and things just ain't the same back home.

We keep trying to make Christmas as magical as it used to be. We watch the same VHS-taped TV specials. We eat the same kinds of Christmassy snacks. We play the same taped-from-radio Christmas music cassettes that Dad made in 1986. But it doesn't work anymore, and nobody wants to be the wet blanket who comes out and says "It's not the SAME. We have problems and sadness that Christmas just can not fix this year. We don't have the money we used to, we have an uncertain and uncomfortable future ahead of us, we don't even have that dumb dog to cheer us up anymore-- and damn it, we TRIED! We tried to make everything as good as it used to be."

I wish I could preserve the sense of tradition and childlike wonder that has always accompanied the holidays. I sort of feel responsible for striking the final blow to my family Christmas. Nobody has done anything to make me feel guilty for it, but it doesn't matter. It's just how it works, being the youngest. As long as I believe in Santa, there will be presents labelled "from Santa" under the tree (which there aren't anymore, but that was just meant to be an illustration of a point). But I can't stretch it out anymore, the childlike tendency-- and we all know it.

It's the same as it was with that poor, aging dog we put down. None of us wanted to be the one to say "okay, that's it--" and pull the plug. But we knew that any more efforts to prolong her life would be fruitless, and maybe even a little cruel.

One day, I may have another dog. And one day, I rather intend to have a family of my own where Christmas can be everything I'm used to it being. In the meantime, Christmas will just end up taking some new form. I just hope I like it.

No comments: