Our Christmas this year passed much like many others before it, only faster and with a certain finality.
Christmas came quickly after my fall semester ended. Thanks to school, our present turnover rate was much higher than normal. Our tree went from barren to presented to barren again quite speedily. There was nothing underneath it until just a couple days before Christmas. For a planner like me, that was practically unacceptable. However, I switched from writing 25-page papers to crafting gifts without taking a needed pause and, miraculously, completed everything in time.
We spent Christmas Eve with Jason’s family. We had a nice meal and then opened presents unhurriedly, enjoying the inside jokes and perpetual teasing. As is Sabin custom, we piled up the wrapping scraps and threw cats and each other into the disarray, creating even more chaos. Little did we know that this would be the last time we’d all be together on this earth.
Due to one final wrapping marathon that didn’t conclude until 3:30 AM Christmas morning, Jason and I slept in a bit on the holiday and headed to my family’s in the afternoon. We had a lovely lunch with them and then set about unwrapping duty. The kids were almost eerily calm during most of the gift giving. Too much sugar? Too many tablet games? Present overload? Whatever the reason, it was pleasant but unnatural.
At the time, Christmas felt like it always does, hectic and tiring. Now, after the unwavering irrevocability of the events of the last month, the filter by which I view that holiday has changed substantially. Recollections of it come to me in potent succession, the fleeting minutes of a transient and unpredictable life. They are moments that cannot be regained with people that can now only be visited in memory. Jason and I have always lived fully but these days, more than ever, even the craziest of holidays seems exceptional and precious to us.