Friday, December 23, 2005

Almost Christmas

One of my favorite moments of the year is the last afternoon of the last "regular" weekday before Christmas. It always seems to be a surreal, slow-motion time of the year that is 25 percent "business as usual" and 75 percent anticipation of what is to come.

I remember that moment of transition when school would give way to "Christmas Break" as a child. The last day of school before the break was always something unusual -- maybe a musical program, everyone dressed up in red sweaters and holiday pins. The day was by no means a drag, but still I would watch the clock move toward the closing bell of the day -- gazing out the window with a growing flutter of joy and freedom. The days surrounding Christmas were filled with playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, opening presents... Oh, I loved those days!

Then, I remember that moment of transition when university final exams gave way to packing up for "home." Stopping by every room on the dormitory floor, shaking hands and wishing "Merry Christmas" before loading the blue laundry basket into the back of my Chevette for the hour-and-a-half ride between Bowling Green and Shelby. The sense of joy and freedom was just as real then as it was as a boy; it even prompts a certain feeling in the pit of my stomach each year... very specific memories are embedded from all the years of fluttery joyful stomachs. I can recall specific songs that were playing on the stereo in my dorm room while packing and in my car while driving through the snow-slicked highways of Northwest Ohio. The days surrounding Christmas were filled with catching up with my siblings and parents, eating good food, making cookies at Marci's house, watching Christmas movies... Oh, I loved those days!

Even now, as an adult, I am fueled through my final days' work tasks as I approach that moment of transition when the work week fades into the holiday. Light-hearted banter with whomever is left in a quiet office, a slowly turned faucet on the flow of e-mails and telephone calls, getting to a stopping point and saying, "I think I'm ready to go home." The ride home seems happier, I feel myself smiling and making friendly eye contact with strangers. Everything is closing up for the holiday, and again I feel a sense of joy and freedom. The days surrounding Christmas are filled with sleeping in, listening to music, exchanging gifts... Oh, I love these days!


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