A late arrival to my Christmas season is always that sense of time slipping so quickly by. This companion to the holiday blizzard of services and family and activities makes a stronger and stronger appearance the deeper I drive into my forties and well into middle age.
One spends a good amount of time anticipating the goodness of being with family, kids home from college, the rejoicing, the singing, the Jesus in the manger and the good will that envelopes one from the congregation and friends. But it comes so quickly and once it is here it rushes past so that one is left with a longing for it to remain. But the calendar pays no mind to your melancholy and soon drops you in the bleak midweek between Christmas and New Years and that slightly panicky feeling comes that says "it is almost over" and there is sadness that it all went so quickly and soon the kids will go back to college and school and the old routines will return.
This is all common enough, I am sure, but significant nonetheless. Our Nativity joy is fleeting, it is a liturgical foretaste, a sacrament of the world to come. The family gatherings and the smiles and the gifts all point forward to that stable where the Holy Family will be us, in all eternity. That is what we long for. The sadness is a part of being here. There are 12 days of Christmas coming that will never end. We are not on that calendar yet but we will be.
But still I wish it didn't have to end. I wish the presents were still under the tree. I wish I were just now welcoming our kids at the front door and I wish we hadn't yet sung "Joy to the World".