I love Christmas Day.
It’s my favorite holiday. I anticipate it for weeks, relish it the morning it arrives, and start feeling a little sad as the clock winds down to the last few minutes of December 25th each year.
While there are other wonderful days of the year (e.g., birthdays, anniversaries), there is only one other day on the calendar that comes close in its emotional euphoria for me as Christmas Day and that’s the first day of my kids’ summer vacation.
Now before I receive all sorts of mail chiding me for comparing a random day in late May or early June to a sacred holiday (if you leave out Santa and the elves of course), let me be clear that I’m not trying to offer any one on one comparisons here. Instead, I’m simply sharing a personal observation with which I’m sure other mothers everywhere can relate.
For starters, the first day of summer break is wonderful because it feels so freeing. After months of getting up early, cajoling other people to get their work done but who you can’t fire if they don’t because they’re only children, and dealing with sometimes frustrating bureaucratic nonsense (e.g., the form for hot dog orders for Field Day must be filed in triplicate in the three designated boxes in the front office and may not be received past noon—NO EXCEPTIONS!), it’s nice to wake up one day and realize that you’re suddenly at liberty to continue sleeping if you feel like (unless you need to be at work and then it’s probably best to reserve further sleeping until after you get there if you must). It’s also a wonderful start of summer activity to gather up all that “work” you’ve saved from the previous school year and use it to build a bonfire in the backyard to make S’mores after swimming if the mood strikes.
While I can’t offer any real life experience, I have to believe that on an emotional level the transition from the last day of school to the first day of summer is like getting released from prison. Suddenly, you’re totally free.
That’s an awesome feeling.
The problem is that the minute school lets out, you’re on the clock. You become Cinderella with a limited amount of time to live it up before you’re back with your stepmother and her rotten daughters (not to draw any comparisons to my own children’s’ teachers who are all wonderful people for the record).
On the first day of summer this year, I made a point of reminding my youngest son that we should try our best to relish and appreciate this summer before it gets away from us.
“You know how it goes,” I told him. “June is great but it just flies by. July starts out fine but then sometime in the middle of the month it dawns on you that half your summer break is over. Then it just feels like a countdown. Three weeks left. Two weeks left. Oh no! It’s August ! Next thing you know you’re sitting back in class, and I’m fighting the Back to School shopping crowd at Target for the last green five ring binder with two pockets because that’s the only binder your science teacher will accept this year.”
As I said all of this, I could tell he was totally getting it because he’s clearly been there, too.
So now we have an understanding. Unlike all the summers before, we are going to appreciate every moment of June. We aren’t going to just let it fly by and then mourn its passing. We’ll embrace the second half of July without an ounce of foreboding, and we’ll turn each day of August into something special.
We are going to enjoy each and every day this summer. And if we’re smart, we’ll do our best to treat each day (including all eleven Mondays) as much as possible as if it was Christmas morning.