Summer Christmas

Posted on May 9, 2015 by Blake Leath

Another school year is coming to an end.  Our daughter is so excited!

I am bummed.

Sure, I look forward to a trip or two, to the usual change of pace, routine and scenery.  And, of course, the sense of relief and joy and levity that animates my daughter for the next couple months is a wonderful blessing.

But you know what?  With the advent of summer, it seems that we all fall away.  Folks and families head for the hills.  There are vacations galore: road trips and flights and cruises and mountainhikes and beaches.  The dress code changes considerably as kids squeeze into last summer's swimsuits and men don their goofy shorts and sandals.

Children braid their little bracelets, cut their hair, develop their tan, and parents and adults everywhere imbibe—while also keeping an eye on the calendar.  Sure, it goes fast, but gosh, when will September be here?

The trough between Memorial Day and Labor Day is punctuated by Independence Day, but is otherwise a moonscape.  People are hither and yon, running this way and that.

It’s great, yeah.

But that falling away…the sojourns…the summer…it’s always tough for me.  I’m an October-February kinda guy.  I prefer the cool to the warm, and love being able to wear my jacket with all its pockets.  The one where I can stash my phone and car keys and wallet and earbuds and kindle and whatnot, and not slosh around in baggy shorts and awkward flip-flops, slathered in sunscreen and bedecked in sunglasses and odd baseball cap.

No, I greatly prefer the chill.  The early evenings, the darkening skies, the silence of snowfall, the sounds of high school bands practicing and plastic helmets clicking as two-a-days begin and football looms on the horizon.  Baseball, basketball; you can have ‘em.

Give me football, any day, and the Oscar race.  Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years.  That’s my stretch; my spread.

As far as I’m concerned, Valentine’s Day marks the beginning of the end!

Gone is the sense of Christmas…or “Winter Break,” if you must.  The “something,” anything, that motivates a few zealous folks to decorate their homes like crazy, to look out for one another, to shop a little, to give a lot, to sing carols offkey, to watch TV specials with aging stars, to eat pie and drink nog and unite as a family in some distant land of old while wearing ugly knitted sweaters.

Say what you will about the holidays—whatever yours may be—but my take is this: the end of the year brings with it a sense of national consciousness; a oneness.  No matter our beliefs, our religions, our lack thereof, the year's end is a natural time for thanksgiving and reflection, and with the New Year that looms over each December, the holidays are also a time of hope and promise and potential.

I love the holidays.  And I love Christmas.  I feel like we’re in something together, even when we're not.

Sure, I appreciate the irony and the hokum and the prestidigitation.  I’m not a complete idiot.

But for those few weeks—the ones that fall somewhere between mid-October and January 2nd—I feel like anything is possible.  For everyone.

I’ll enjoy my summer, but probably not as much as you.

I’ll savor my time with my girls, my time with family, our trips with friends.  And I’ll appreciate and value the long days and warm sun on my pasty, vitamin D-deficient skin.

But God bless Christmas, and the moment I hear that marching band on the field up the road.