I had my annual Boxing Day breakdown at the dinner table this year.
The day after Christmas has often left me feeling deflated, let down after weeks of build-up. This year, though, my tears sprung from feeling full to bursting with the sweet moments of past couple months and not wanting to pack any of them away. But we were preparing for a trip to Disney World, my in-laws' Christmas gift to us, and hustling to box and bag up the season before we left.
When my husband told me that he was throwing away the gingerbread house that Big E made at school and that she was fine with it because she could just make another one next year, I got teary. Next year, I may not get to visit her class on gingerbread house day, may miss the deliberation over where to place the peppermints and how to best simulate smoke from a tootsie roll chimney. Next year, Little E may not be quite so taken with the three-foot snowman decoration in her daycare's foyer and may not sling her arm around his shoulders everyday and demand I take a picture. Next year, they'll both be another year older and it breaks my heart.
And that's not all. Next year, I may not be lucky enough to still have my part-time schedule, may be back to trudging through full-time work. Even worse, I thought of all of the awful things that I've watched others endure --illness, injury, grief and loss. Only luck has spared me and my family, but what if next year finds us on the other side?
I would likely not have kind things to say about the woman with the lovely children, idyllic holiday, career satisfaction, wholly untragic life, and all-expenses paid trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, who still finds cause to weep at the dinner table. Yet there I was: despairing under the weight of my own happiness and good fortune.
I wish I could say that I came to some great realization that allowed me to accept the passage of time, to figure out how to stop looking back with longing and foward with trepidation. That didn't happen, but our trip did get cancelled by the snowstorm.
And I wish I could say that I at least managed to hold it together about that.