It’s 11 a.m. on the day before Christmas, and our 15-year-old daughter, Emma, is still asleep.
I think that’s something.
Sleeping late on the day before Christmas is a coming-of-age deal. When you’re a young child, the last thing you want to do on the day before Christmas is sleep late. What you want to do is get up early and try to make Christmas come as quickly as possible. It never works, but when you’re young, you somehow think it will.
This is the second year in a row that Emma has said she is not as excited about Christmas as she used to be. And, as I told her last year, I know what she means.
Emma is in what I call the Christmas transition. She is at an age where she goes from childlike wonder to teenage indifference, and that will eventually lead to adult acceptance.
It’s not that Emma doesn’t like Christmas anymore. It’s just that she feels differently about the holiday. Seven or eight years ago, I wrote a column on Christmas Eve, and in it I said: “Emma is bouncing off the walls. No, she is literally bouncing off the walls.”
Like most of my columns, that one was basically true. Emma was 6 or 7 (the years tend to run together after a while), and she was very excited about Christmas. I remember I was at home when I wrote that column, and Emma kept running into my office checking to see if I was through so she could hurry back to rushing Christmas.
By the way, it’s 11:30 a.m. now, and Emma just woke up. I know that because she just walked past my office without saying anything. Apparently, this year there is no rush toward Christmas.
On Monday, while Emma helped me shop for her mother, she told me that she and some friends planned to spend part of the day before Christmas at a coffee shop on the square. She hasn’t said so, but I get the impression that her friends are in the same Christmas transition period that she is in. And that’s OK.
It’s the circle of Christmas.
When I finish this column, I have to run to Joplin to get a few items that I forgot to pick up. Well, actually I didn’t forget as much as I put off. See, to me, it’s not Christmas unless I spend part of the day before Christmas shopping. It’s a little Christmas tradition I started after I got married.
Emma will do that someday. I don’t mean that she will shop on the day before Christmas. I mean that she will start developing her own little holiday traditions. It’s also part of the Christmas transition.
When you’re young, your Christmas traditions come from your parents. Then, as you get older, you develop your own traditions. Some of them are based on the traditions you grew up with, but others just sort of evolve.
It’s the circle of Christmas.
When I think back to past Christmases, I tend to think of stages in my life.
I remember when I was 7, a Christmas in Ames, Iowa, and how I was bouncing off the walls.
I remember when I was 13, a Christmas in Junction City, Kan., when my dad was in Vietnam. I remember how different everything seemed.
I remember when I was 22, a Christmas in Parsons, Kan., when my mom had been sick for a couple of years. I remember wondering if that would be her last Christmas.
I remember when Emma was almost a year old, a Christmas in our old house on Maple Street, and how excited my wife and I were and how indifferent Emma was. And I remember a Christmas when Emma was 6 or 7 and was bouncing off the walls.
And I’m pretty sure, in a few years, I’ll remember a Christmas when Emma was 15 and didn’t feel the same way about Christmas as she did when she was younger.
And how I was reminded of the circle of Christmas.
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