Remember when you were a child and it was Christmas?  Everything smelled like pine and cinnamon and you were wading through knee-deep snow in your puffy down-filled snowsuit, the world so big and so white and so exciting all of a sudden?  You asked your mother what a sugar plum was, so unaware of past Christmas traditions… you were so excited to explore boxes of Christmas ornaments to find all your favourites — the little drummer with the broken arm, all the crafts you made last year in grade three, the clothespin reindeer…  and you would hang them everywhere, uncaring about form or visuals or esthetics, only about fun and colour.  And when you weren’t eating shortbread and gingerbread and powdered sugar, you were practicing your song for the Christmas concert, memorizing the actions, trying on that velvet puffed-sleeved dress with the plaid drindle skirt and sash over and over again… those were the days, right?  Your own warm and happy memories of childhood Christmases…

Childhood is funny that way.  The happy memories seem tinted with a tarnished brass sheen, as though you’re peering through a candle-lit window at all of them, and as soon as you think of them you seem transported back to this place where so much naivety became you and so much possibility paved your future… what will I be? Who will I marry?  When will I get my first kiss?  When will I learn to drive?  All of these things are exciting rather than daunting, mysterious rather than scary, fiction rather than reality.  Far-reached and far away.

And then suddenly, there they are. Sometimes, sooner than we intended, sooner than we were ready, too soon for us to even understand them at all when they happen.  And by the time they’re over, we have years of childhood left, more years of childhood than we intended.  Because when something sneaks up on us and scares us, we suddenly become afraid of it.

 

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