Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday: Christmas Without Children

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON - Christmas is a holiday for children. The light in a child's eye from the scene around the tree first thing on Christmas morning almost defines the modern secular Christmas, never mind what the holiday was originally intended to mean. Instead of being about the child Jesus, it's about the child spirit, within both those that are still children and those that observe and remember their own.

For my entire adult life, there have been children around on Christmas Day. By the time my contemporary cousins and I had grown up from pure excitement about gifts on Christmas day, my older cousins were having children. By the time those children were growing up, my generation started to have children.

Yet, scheduling and traditions this year conspired so that despite a reasonably large group of ten people gathering at my parents' house, they were composed only of my mothers' siblings and their spouses, plus one of my older cousins whose children are grown up and all had other places to be on this day. One of my cousins with children was trapped in the northern part of the state under three feet of snow and could only call to wish us a Merry Christmas, while others had other places to be.

So, I would be the youngest person in attendance at an all-adult Christmas, the first of my life. It was surprisingly quiet and orderly without any babies requiring attention, small children running around and flinging toys around, or even older children wanting to play video games. There was just grown-up conversation, snacking and eating.

Even the gift exchanges were not the same without children around. The anticipation of everyone gathering by tree was not nearly as intense. The formal gift exchange went quite smoothly, with only one "steal" during the whole exchange. The whole experience was just very mature and adult.

While I really didn't mind the added calm on Christmas Day, most would say there was something missing--children.

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