Touch of spice

Clinging to childhood

Our Christmas tree still stands. The reason is sentimental, but I have excuses to cover that.

First, we lost the instruction book. The tree looks deceptively simple and I have a mechanically-inclined husband. He prides himself in being able to take something that's not working, finding the problem and fixing it. He's very good at it, but that tree confounded him (the egg nog maybe?). I know we can get it apart, it's getting it back up next year that's the problem.

Second, it's a great distraction for the baby. Anytime someone needs a minute, we just lay her under the tree. The bright lights and shiny ornaments hold her attention for minutes precious minutes.

The real reason it still stands is that it's my ally in finding the magic. I used to scoff at the notion that Christmas is for kids. How could adults not enjoy the presents? The surprise? The suspense? Having their wonderful kids home from school for two whole weeks?

Adults get distracted from the magic of the holidays for two reasons stress and expense concepts that are foreign to little ones.

But there is another, bigger reason. It seems that merriment, imagination and magic are checked at the door of adulthood. As soon as you become responsible for providing for yourself and others, those gifts disappear.

And, in a race toward adulthood, that doesn't seem like a big sacrifice to make. When you're 15, there's not much you won't exchange for a driver's license. When you're 16, there's not much you wouldn't give for the independence of being 18, a legal adult. At 20, sacrifices are easy to make to get the legal right to have a cocktail with dinner.

All bait. Designed to create a society that thinks more about rewards than sacrifices. Designed to create a society that doesn't believe magic is possible or dragons exist. Designed to create a society that doesn't believe there is such thing as happily ever after.

They told us it goes by fast. We didn't believe them. It didn't go near fast enough for us. And now, we cling to the memories of simpler, happier times.

Christmas used to be a sign that magic and imagination were still alive. Most of my childhood fairy tales were woven around a single stand of lights. Each year, the neighbors would decorate the sign over their driveway, three-sides of a square, with lights lights that were visible from my bed.

They didn't flash. They didn't blink. In fact, there wasn't really much to them at all, but those lights unlocked the key to my imagination, my dreams.

I miss those dreams. I miss those powers. I think it's my God-given right to have them and retain them as long as I live.

That's why my Christmas tree still stands.

As I lie in bed, I try to recapture that freedom of youth. I look and the lights and allow my mind to be free. I give my dreams power to come true.

I'm going to fight to never be one of those adults who isn't moved at all by the holiday season. One of those adults who says, as if it doesn't matter to them, "holidays are for kids."

And, I will create new traditions that continue to make the holiday meaningful and full of fun, laughter and merriment.

It's time to take down the tree now. I think I've learned its lesson (I'm hoping my husband has, too). It already looks different. The ornaments didn't remain spaced perfectly with no two that are alike next to each other. They are all crowded at the top, above toddler reach. All that remains on the bottom are ornament tops and hangers whose better halves have disappeared. There's a little hole of mashed branches, created by a toddler's attempt to reach higher. The bottom rows of tinsel are now in the kitchen, the garbage disposal, the vacuum cleaner's rotating brush and other unimaginable places. There are very few candy canes remaining, they have been spirited off to secret hiding places that won't be found until we move if then.

That too, is part of the magic.

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