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The Darkest Day

When I was a kid, I hated this day more than any other.

As soon as the last bag of candy corn was purchased on October 31st, the world started moving toward that pivotal day of the entire Kid Year: Christmas. In every store, toys sprung up like mushrooms after the rain. A thousand variations of the twenty or so standard Christmas songs came out of electronic device with a speaker on it. Santas and elves suddenly appeared as if aliens in red and white had invaded the earth.

Thus began the overture, the slow build. This was the time when catalogues were perused, lists were concocted and dreams were spun. Ah, a slight scent of Christmas pine was in the air and the flame of anticipation was just being kindled.

Then Thanksgiving came and with it the starting gun. Anticipation became frenetic activity. Tinsel, shiny orbs and blinking lights sprung up on the buildings like they had been sprayed there. The tree was purchased and the annual trimming battle was joined. Everything from paste to jock itch powder suddenly became great gift ideas. Certain closets were declared off limits and dire warnings were issued should their sanctity be violated. Mother became a human tornado fighting in the trenches of the stores during the day and baking, wrapping and hiding things every night. Dad just stayed out of the way and shook his head a lot.

As the shopping days counted down the adrenalin soared up and things reached panic level. The adults were consumed with planning, buying, and worrying that they would miss and thus offend someone. Meanwhile we kids were almost disintegrating with excitement and anticipation of the treasures to be bestowed upon them. On Christmas Eve I lay vibrating on my bed thinking every sound was made by Santa. My parents collapsed in exhaustion and suddenly remembered they forgot cousin Clyde.

Then the holiest of holy days arrived. We pounced on the presents like vultures pouncing on a fresh corpse. The wrapping paper that mom so carefully applied was shredded into confetti, falling like snow on the living room floor. We barely took the time to look at one gift before grabbing the next one. Months of anticipation, weeks of effort and hours of work ended in a matter of minutes.

Then it was over. Dinner, company and playing with the new toys provided a brief winding down period. But, when I went to bed on Christmas night, the sadness would start to creep in.

Then THIS day came! After months of Christmas build up, this day brought nothing but the painful realization that I was as far from Christmas as I could possibly get. Cruelly, the holiday did not disappear as quickly as it sprung up. Every time I saw a billboard the mentioned the holiday, viewed a TV show about it or heard a Christmas song I would get angry! The day was over and all hints of the day of days should instantly disappear! Anything else was sheer cruelty. It was just a reminder that there was nothing- NOTHING- to look forward to for 364 days. Who cares about New Years or Presidents’ Day or whatever?

Eventually, the signs of Christmas would gradually be buried under the return of mundane life. Spring and warm weather would come and thoughts soon turned to the ending of school. Then it was summer, wonderful summer when life was perfect. We dealt with the trauma of school’s return but as the days grew crisp and cold Halloween would be upon us.

And I knew it would soon be Christmas.

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