On Saturday, she got another one.
On Sunday, I was digging in the crawlspace for Christmas decorations, aiming to divest myself of things we no longer use as well as pulling out the things we do use. In the process of doing this, I handed off a seasonal item or two to my daughter to see if she had any use for them before I put them in a pile to give away.
Somewhere in the process of doing all of this, it occurred to me rather forcefully that this is the last Christmas we'll prepare for as a family -- at least in quite this way. This time next year, most of the preparations will be done while she's at school, under the assumption that when she comes home, drained from finals and the semester's end, enforced Christmas decorating won't be high on her list. The traditions we've spent eighteen years refining as a family of three will be different next year.
As I said, this realization hit me rather forcefully And so I did what any good psychology instructor with nearly three decades of experience as a counselor would do.
I shoved that thought aside and powered through.
I'm not in denial, mind you, nor am I cold-blooded. As my daughter's senior year progresses, I'm just aware that there are lots of milestones, some big and some small, that mark rites of passage not only for her, but for our family as well. I can huddle in a puddle on the floor every time one of these realizations hits, or I can choose to enjoy this time, savoring it, and perhaps being a tad more patient (I wish!) and a lot more sentimental.
As it turns out, pausing and savoring seems to be the theme of this particular December, at least for me. I don't know how much I've been influenced by topics I'm discussing with my students, how much is my age and the stage of life I'm in and how much is the desire to tuck aside memories because I realize this December, more than perhaps any other, just how fast they dissipate, but the ratio doesn't really matter.
Life is good. And when life is good, it's foolish not to appreciate it.