Like every parent I struggle to understand where the years have gone. I gaze at three full-sized humans towering over me and feel like I just watched a movie on fast forward and would give anything to see it again at normal speed. While that might just be a mom fantasy, Christmas morning is the one chance to rewind the tape and watch a small segment of my sons’ childhoods played over again.
Barbara Brotman, a retired journalist at The Chicago Tribune threw out a terrific question, “Anyone else have grown children who turn into excited kiddies at Christmas?” Her family has a wonderful tradition of packing lunch and going off to the zoo, and although her daughters are well into their 20s, the family tradition is going strong.
Her question she got me thinking about why I so love Christmas morning, a ritual new to my life. The answer I believe is that when we rise on December 25, my family rolls back the clock. For one morning a year I get to gaze upon my grown and nearly grown sons as they once were, small boys bursting with excitement.
It is only on Christmas morning that my kids will rise early with no place they need to be. They spend the day in flannel pj bottoms and old T-shirts, bed heads abound and breakfast consists largely of candy.
When I give my kids a birthday present they politely open the wrapping and offer thanks. Christmas morning is a free-for-all with wrapping paper and boxes flying in every direction and three of them shouting and laughing. In past years we have found unopened gifts the next day, such is the chaos and mess.
Every other day of the year there are comings and goings. Even for other holidays, there are friends and family around, people dropping by, phones ringing and, of course, my sons endlessly texting. But, Christmas morning the world disappears and we climb into our family cocoon.
I once said that my husband, sons and I have been like a two decade long loving embrace that, now that my sons lives have moved on, can never be the same again. Except on Christmas morning.