It took me a while to get in the Christmas spirit this year.  It’s not that I was down, or reluctant; I’ve just had a lot going on and it seemed like all of the build up evaporated before I hardly had a chance to acknowledge it.

We put up the tree a week later than usual, so that didn’t help (yes, it’s artificial and just the right size for our little house).  And we’ve been in such a “doing” mode all fall, it kind of perpetuated into the holidays and didn’t leave us much time for sipping cocoa (with Bailey’s) and singing carols in the living room.

The sad thing is, I recall having the same notion last year, that Christmas kind of snuck up on me, and quite possibly the year before that. I’m not certain, but it wouldn’t surprise me. That made me wonder if this is now going to be the norm.

I mean, ten years ago, the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas felt much longer. And thirty years ago it felt like an absolute eternity, sprawled out like an endless barrier between me and a host of irresistible presents sure to ceaselessly delight and entertain me for the rest of eternity, if only I could ever reach them.

As I’ve grown older my perception of the passage of time, of course, has sped up, as I’m sure will continue to be the case. But in regard to the month of December, it seems it has doubly so. No sooner has the last piece of pumpkin pie made it into my belly, than I am thawing the Christmas kringle to greet us on the morning of the 25th. Thrift! Thrift, Santa Claus! The Thanksgiving-baked meats do coldly furnish forth the yuletide tables.

Noting the hastened speed of father time come the Christmas season, I’ve decided that I’m going to have to consciously dedicate time to “Remembering Christmas” every year because, when I really think about it, it’s the memories of Christmas that perpetuate in my heart. Not the food, nor the presents, nor the rituals, nor the traditions, but simple memories of the love and wonder that Christmas has brought each year.

To me, Christmas has become the memory of slurping hot cocoa with marshmallows while Tennessee Earl Ford bellows an “O Holy Night” that will make you weep with joy. Or the memory of laying on my back, head beneath the lowest branches of my childhood Christmas tree, staring upwards into the center maze of branches, garland, and colored lights, as the droning hum of our Hallmark motorized ornaments lull me to a winter’s sleep and shave one more night off the advent. Or the memory of breaking peppermint bark off of a new slab and stacking it nicely on my mother’s multi-tiered cookie tray, hoping that more would fall on the floor to justify my eating them before the guests arrive. Or of the exhilaration of watching “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas” as it originally aired on HBO so many years ago and capturing my heart.

It’s up to me to forge new memories of the holiday season, regardless of whether I think I’ve got the time or not. I’m sure thirty years from now, god-willing, my memories will be of rising to mimosas and kringle, new, slobbery dog toys, and toasting a brandy old fashioned with a beautiful woman by my side. Hopefully it’ll be that and not me cursing at the damn Christmas lights as I try to string them on the tree.

Christmas is about the memories. So craft some good ones now and always. Make them count; in the end they’re all we’ll have.

Merry Christmas to all.