I must have been a sophomore in high school, because I think my brother was a freshman in college, leaving me alone in the house. It was a night without homework, but I had some chores to do. Feeling in the festive mood, I popped in Harry Connick Jr.’s When My Heart Finds Christmas CD and sang along as I did the dishes by hand. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt the Christmas spirit as strongly that night as I remembered from my earliest yuletide memories.
Strangely, that night wasn’t in December or anywhere near Christmas.
I think it was sometime in September. But that night felt like Christmas to me. The Christmas spirit is a fickle thing.
When I went to college, Christmas was still special, because it was something to come home for, but it was nothing compared to the joy and expectation of my youth. Then after college, when I joined the ranks of the toiling masses of retail workers, whatever was left of the Christmas spirit died.
Sure, Christmas was still a special time. My wife and I sharing our holidays as newlyweds, the challenge of finding just the right gift and seeing her face light up as she opened it. Christmas was certainly special, but the season no longer held the sustained tone of joy and impatience as it had when I was younger.
If anything, those first few Christmases were even less joyous for my wife. She also worked in retail, but being in management she worked longer hours and dealt with angrier people than I ever had to handle.
But then something happened. We had kids.
And now that they are old enough to understand the holidays a bit, I can see the Christmas spirit making a comeback in my house. It may be true that it’ll never be the same for me again, but watching my daughters’ light up with our tree is close. And that’s good enough for me.