It’s the Most Bittersweet Time of the Year

It seems like the holiday season turns us into one of two types of people.

There are the people that walk around with sunshine coming out of their ears. They’re the embodiment of holiday spirit. Nothing could possibly go wrong, nobody gets under their skin, and when the season ends, they fall into a deep time of mourning.

Then there are folks who, let’s just say, don’t do the holidays well.

They’re seemingly filled with an extra dose of bah-humbug spirit. They cut you off in traffic. They fight you for that parking spot. They try to use 67 coupons at the register, and even though the manager has politely told them that they can’t do that, they won’t take no for an answer.

We all know people who fall into these camps.

I tend to fall more in the first category, if I’m being honest. Throughout my childhood, my parents did an incredible job of making the holiday season as magical as possible. My mom was, and still is, really big on traditions. We did the same things every year at the same time, and she still gives me a pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve.

But lately, I’ve been growing a bit more melancholy around the holidays.

The reason?

My oldest daughter’s birthday is 20 days before Christmas. This year she turned 9. As we were getting ready for bed the night before her birthday, my wife looked at me and said, “Avery is going to be 9 tomorrow. That means half of the time she’s going to spend in our home is gone.”

And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that.

Now, every Christmas feels like another reminder that my girls are growing up too fast. They’re thankfully still asking for things like dolls and Legos for Christmas, but soon they’ll be asking for things like iPhones and tablets and cash and I am not prepared for that.

Right now we’re spending our money on Star Wars T-shirts and flip sequins pillows. Soon we’ll be spending our money on prom dresses and bras.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this new phase of life. My oldest is old enough to have deep, soul-level discussions with (which, if you know me, are my favorite type of discussions). She asks big questions and cares deeply about things.

But a part of me wants to rewind time to before she could properly pronounce all her words, when she’d still let me dress her, and just freeze her there. Forever asking me if we could go get hankybergers (her word for hamburgers).

I know that’s selfish. I know my girls have great things to do in this world, and they can’t do those as a 2-year-old, or even a 9-year-old. I know that with each passing year, they’re growing into the people that they’re going to be, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. After all, isn’t that what every parent wants for their kids? To grow up and to be the kind of person that makes a difference in the world?

I just wish it wasn’t all going so fast. So for at least one more year, we’ll all believe in Santa, we’ll put out the Elf on a Shelf, and we’ll wake up on Christmas morning with all the magic and wonder that can only come from seeing Christmas morning through the eyes of children.

 

Stephen Carter is a writer, husband, father, & friend. He lives in Portland with his wife Rachel, and 3 beautiful girls, Avery, Rylee, & Hattie. When he’s not reading or writing, he enjoys a local micro-brew, or a strong cup of coffee. He is passionate about literature, theology, justice, Daniel Day-Lewis movies, U2 records (but with strong reservations about No Line on the Horizon), and believes that the right words can change the world. He can be found on: Twitter: @stephenedwardc

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