For me, the weeks building up to Halloween are like the tantalizing moments when you are doing the slow crawl up on a roller coaster to the first big drop. The holidays are still far off, but visitation is being negotiated and airline tickets are purchased, if needed. The closer you get to it, the anticipation builds as you try to make this year a grander celebration of your love for each other than ever before. At least, that’s how it is for me.
When I see Christmas decorations for sale before Halloween, I know it’s just a matter of time before I hear the first grumblings of “Too soon!” and “FFS, it’s mid-October!”. I get it, and I used to be right there with the crowd, complaining. In recent years, I get a bit of a tingle for that magical time around Christmas that most of my family gathers together, and I get to see my two sons again.
Yes, it’s early. But for those of us that don’t have our children living with us, the holidays can’t start soon enough. (I can only speak from my experience having our beloved baby chicks living far off for amicable reasons. I can’t imagine how it is for those that are separated from their children for other reasons, so won’t address that here.) In the last several weeks, you would have found me wandering the aisles of Christmas cards and decorations without shame. Bring on the holidays, I say!
Once the dates are negotiated and checking account balances drained, the real planning can begin. I was again basing my decision on whether or not to decorate for Christmas based on when the kids would be here. Since I have them the week before Christmas this year, there shall be decorations and all the appropriate hoopla made. There will be a family holiday party with too much food and too loud laughter that will end far too soon.
Like a roller coaster cresting and dropping for the exciting run, there will be adrenaline, laughter and joy. Then, harshly, the car pulls back into the station. The boys fly back to their dad on Christmas Eve. And I start complaining that the ride was too short and whining that I want to get back in line again.
Even worse, we were unable to afford flying us all out to California to visit my step-son. We knew it was a long shot at best, especially since we were just there in July, but I still hoped for it. With luck, we’ll be able to resume our plan to alternate years in Virginia and California for the holidays. Damn. It’s hard to keep your heart in pieces all over the country.
For those with children in families of all types, shapes and sizes I ask you to hold tight to your kids when they’re little. Because they grow up faster than you’d believe and take bits of you with them when they go. And life is too short, for all of us.
So suck it up, cupcake. Christmas is coming, and some of us have been waiting since July.