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Ghosts of Christmas present
Sudie Crouch

“I wish Christmas would hurry up and get here!” I would cry when I was younger. “It’s taking it forever!”

“It takes as long as it takes,” was Granny’s reply. 

“Why does it take so long?” I demanded. 

Granny’s response was to let me sit with my whine a little while, usually continuing with her sewing or washing dishes while I awaited her wisdom. 

Instead of her normal gruff reply, she was often quite calm and gentle with her answer. 

“Child, it only feels that way because you are young. Once you get older, you will see that time really goes by much too fast.”

I crinkled my nose up at her in disagreement. 

“That doesn’t make sense, Granny,” I said. “My time is 6 o’clock – are you saying your time is later?”

She gave me a rare smile and shook her head. “One day, you’ll get it. Enjoy the fact time is much slower for you now. I really wish it was that way for me.” 

Getting from the beginning of the school year to Christmas took what felt like 46 months, at least in child years. 

In Granny years, it was a blink. 

I can remember looking at my little calendar in hopes the days were passing quicker.

“How long before Christmas?” I’d ask. 

“About ten weeks,” Mama would say. 

“Weeks! Tell me days!” 

“Around seventy,” she told me. 

“What – that’s longer!” 

Mama probably wondered about my math skills but instead gently said, “Kitten, it’s not longer; Christmas will be here around three months.”

I groaned – three months? Was she adding extra days in there between Wednesday and Friday? I think that happened during the school week sometimes.

The only good thing about it taking a lifetime to get from the beginning of the school year to Christmas is that I had time to get off the Naughty List. 

Three months, 10 weeks, 70 days give or take, would surely be enough time for me to repent of my sassy ways and get on the Nice List. 

In actuality, it was long enough for me to hop from list to list and back again. 

I’d even pray for time to go by quicker, but that didn’t seem to work. 

It felt like I was in some kind of chronological quicksand. No matter how many days passed, I never got any closer to Christmas. 

When I was officially an adult, time went by a little by quicker but not by much. Instead of going at a snail’s pace, it had sped up to a turtle. 

My focus had shifted from what toys I would get to how much time off I’d have from work. 

Then, I became a mother and suddenly, time picked up the tempo.

I honestly can’t believe how quickly this year has passed. 

How quickly all the years have gone by. 

My son’s earlier Christmases were mere blinks. 

I look at photos and wonder how some were a dozen years ago. 

“Wasn’t it just the other day he was so small and wanted Legos and Pokemon cards?” I whispered. 

The moments have gone by as if they were fast-forwarded. How had this happened so quickly?

“It will go by in a blink,” Granny used to say. “You’ll miss it.”

“Miss what?” I asked. 

She shook her head, looking at nothing in particular as she stared off in the distance. “All of it. You’ll miss all of it.”

Children grow up into teenagers, like mine is now; then on to the adult child living hours away. 

Things changing and time passing so rapidly that we can’t get back. 

I used to wonder why Granny would randomly stop and just look at us during the holidays. 

In the middle of us tearing open gifts in front of the tree, or as we shoved sweet potato pie into our faces during dinner, she would just be gazing at us. 

I thought it was just because she couldn’t believe she was going to have to clean up after our heathen selves later.

“What?” I asked. 

“What - what?” she replied. 

“What are you looking at us for?” 

She smiled. “I’m taking it all in,” she said, nodding towards the rest of the family. “Everything can be different this time next year, so I’m just taking it all in.”

And just like she was so right about the passage of time as an adult, she was right about how things can change from one year to the next.

It may have taken me a few decades to figure it out but now I totally get it. All of it. 


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