The morning after Christmas has found me standing in the living room looking down upon my children as they stare off into the distance. Minds blanked out and traveling to places unknown. Some are wide eyed and lost in the unreal, reality world of television while others are still mezmorized by the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. I wander in and ask each one individually whats happening, only to get the obligatory “nothing”. Followed with a heavy sigh and them returning to the “lost boys” stare. What is this delema they are in mentally, why have they completely tuned out and are on another planet? I mean come on, this is the day after Christmas, arent there toys to be played with, games to be won, new clothes to wear, friends to deliberate with over their new found fortunes?
I sit down and travel back in time to when I was there ages. The days before Christmas always felt like an eternity. We were constantly staring at the calender, counting down the days until the “big guy” was due to arrive. To make matters worse my mother was always fond of putting the tree up as soon as possible to help instil the “Christmas Spirit” in us all. We loved the tree a true symbol of Christmas staring at us in all its luminous glory, every morning when we awoke and every evening as we went to bed. I can remember getting up several times a night to stare in wonder at all its colors, blinking,twinkling and shining throughout the house. It was speaking to me, echoing in my head that I needed to be patient, Christmas day would come soon enough.
My sister and I on the other hand had a different plan. We treated Christmas day like an upcoming battle. We were warriors, soldiers on the western front, we had work to do, only 18 days left and a battle plan had yet to be formed. Everyday we would go out and count the number of presents under the tree, this helped to gauge the excrutiating amount of time we had left till “D” day. 18 days, 4 presents, 15 days, 8 presents, 9 days 15 presents and so on. The more presents we had under the tree, the closer we were to battle. Our battle plan revolved around my parents inability to tell time. You see the rules were very simple, no one could get out of bed until 8 am or as my father put it “there will be no Christmas”! Yet my mother would follow that up with a stern, “no getting up until 8 when the sun comes up” wether this was a slip of the tongue or done on purpose we didnt care. We were shrewd enough to know that was the loophole we were looking for! The faintest crack of dawn and the presents were ours. We divided the room accordingly, I would come in from the north, she from the south. I would handle quieting the noisey birds, she would sooth the dog. Then like Navy Seals we would descend upon our prey and make haste with the civility. Treasure was ours!!
My parents would join us eventually and we would get the obligatory butt chewing from father for not following the rules. But it was worth it, by 7:15 we had our first round of candy devoured, by 8 presents were demolished and more candy was fueling our rage! By 9 breakfast was just the foundation for more sugary bliss! By 11 we are headed to our relatives house where our wild eyed obsessions (candy and more gifts) would be fulfilled. Most kids would crumble under the pressure, but we were strong, we knew the stakes and we had trained for battle. We would prevail.
By 10 at night the carnage was complete, the candy was gone (my parents feeble attempt to keep the candy in moderation was always a failure) food had been devoured, and all gifts had been opened, played with and reboxed for transport. Sure a few good men perished on the battle field that day (our cousins who couldnt handle the pressure) but we were still alive. We would sleep like a rock that night, like angels, the campaign finished, its warriors triumphant.
So as I look upon my own brood I realize that they are suffering from a condition. A condition that we never recognized in the old days. Post Traumatic Christmas Syndrome. As adults we forget how much work Getting to Christmas day really was for us. We have forgotten about staring into the belly of the beast and winning the battle. We forget about the ones lost on the battlefield of elves, Santa and reindeer. Why because we are adults. We have sadly turned that part of brain off for the trappings of the real world.
So let them stay in their vegatative state. Recognize the battle hardend thousand mile stare, and have sympathy, for after a couple days of re-hab they will be back. And they will start planning again, for next year the battle will always be bigger and better in their little minds. And you will be left once again staring at them on “The Morning After”.