During the holiday season, what specific aspect of being a young child do you miss the most?
When I was very young, I would wake on Christmas morning to find a trail of red construction paper footprints leading from my bedroom door to wherever my stocking was waiting. Usually, it would be so stuffed with tiny packages, that it would have fallen from its hook and sometimes this made me sad. Mostly, though, I looked forward to discovering what good things would come from those tiny boxes.
That anticipation hasn’t completely disappeared, but it’s waned a lot as I’ve grown older, and the unwavering belief in Santa and Magic has transformed to fleeting moments of complete suspension of disbelief, and the limited ability to turn off the jaded part of my brain.
I miss the innocence of childhood. I miss looking forward to those paper footprints. I miss the bubble of delight that would form in my chest when I saw packages labeled “To Melissa, from Santa” in red or green glitter. I miss the security of knowing my mother would always be my fiercest protector, and I miss the dreams of seeing a reindeer-powered sleigh cross the night sky.
When I was six, I believed it when the folks at channel 9 said they were tracking a UFO coming from the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Thirty years later, I watch the news and wish for such stories.