As Anxious As A Little Child

I remember very clearly a point when I was a kid — a teenager really, probably 14 or 15 — and impatiently ready for Christmas; I kept a diary at the time, because of course I did, and it was full of exactly the kind of dull things that you’d expect me at that age to be writing about, even if I (of course) felt very passionately about it all at the time. The reason I’m telling you this, though, was that I have a shockingly clear memory of it turning December and my starting to count down to Christmas Day, feeling that it was impossibly far away at 24 days, 23, 22, and so on. How could it ever arrive, when it was still 20 days away.?

Compare that with this year, when someone pointed out at the end of last month that Christmas was just four weeks away, and I broke out in the emotional equivalent of a cold sweat, wondering how it could be so close already. I hadn’t even planned out what gifts I was going to get everybody just yet…!

I don’t know if this is purely an aging thing, or if this year in particular has made me curiously aware of how quickly time passes. Certainly, the anxiety over not having planned everyone’s presents feels entirely new; I can remember going shopping the weekend before Christmas last year with some gifts still to get and feeling utterly fine about it, for example. Now, though, I feel as if I’m playing with fire and convinced that something will happen to distract me and leave me on Christmas Eve realizing that I’ve forgotten something important.

If there’s an upside to this, it’s that my Season of Caution might result in me finishing all my yuletide chores early enough to allow me to enjoy the rest of December in a holiday haze. Alternately, I might end up just being far too conscious of the rushed passing of time to enjoy anything. It’s beginning to look a lot like… middle age, I guess.

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