Sunday, November 23, 2008

November 23

November 23 always brings a strange sense of weirdness. It's the one day of the year that is the longest time away from my birthday. It feels kind of like that deflated moment after you realize that you have opened the very last Christmas gift. The celebration has ended. It's going to be a long time before it comes again.

As a kid, I used to think the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas lasted FOREVER. We went to my great-grandmother's house on Thanksgiving to have dinner with my mother's brothers and their families. We'd eat, talk, play, and usually had a great time. Then, right before everyone started leaving, we would draw names for the Christmas gifts. It was exciting to see who drew my name and would buy my gift when we'd all meet at the same place again for Christmas dinner and opening presents.

Usually, the present I opened at my great-grandmother's house was the first present of the season. Occasionally, my class at school would have a gift exchange on the last day of school, but usually this was the first. I remember being so excited. The hours stretched out. The uncles arrived with their families. People ate, and ate, ate, ate. The kids took turns asking if the time to open gifts had arrived. All this probably happened over the course of about four hours, but it seemed as if we were there for weeks, waiting on time to open the gifts.

Then, the wrapping paper flew. Suddenly, it was over. And there was that moment. Almost like, "Is that all?" Not in an ungrateful way, but in a disbelieving way.

As I get older, I find the years mark on more quickly than they ever have. I watched Spark open his Christmas gifts last year, the first year he really got into it, and I saw the excitement in his eyes. But, I also saw the flash of "is it really over," that slightly deflated moment. But, it didn't last long as he reached for his new toys and started playing.

The pace picks up each year. I find myself thinking ahead too much, or contemplating the past too much. For my 29th year, I want to focus on the present, the current moment I'm in, this place of wonder. I'm looking back today at the past year, and I'm enjoying where I am. Yes, there are things about myself and the world I want to change, and I'm making those changes slowly. I want to look back on the day after I turn 30 and see how I've made some changes.

A friend told me the other day that she doesn't even want to acknowledge her birthday anymore. She's in her early 40s, and that depresses her. I don't know what I'll feel when I'm 40, but right I still look forward to my birthday. Even though I am winding down my 20s, even though I do see the small signs of aging. I have had a great decade. I expect to my 30s to be even better.

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