I walked out of the office today after a rather quiet day at work to a sunlit sky. Granted, today was an early day -- I had finished up everything I could with few folks returning e-mails and phone calls. It reminded me of the summer a bit where the daylight hung around for several hours than it does these days. Tuesday was the winter solstice, so the daylight will come back slowly over the next few months. I started the car and headed for home.

One small detail that I left out: I was wearing a red "Santa" hat. No particular reason. They were handed out to us prior to our last mixer, and it was still on my desk from that evening. I checked it in the rear-view at a four-way stop, realizing how ridiculous it looked. Oh well, I thought. I was committed to the idea now; no reason to hide it.

The roads were mostly empty. I scanned the radio for anything that might pick up my spirits. Auto-tuned rap song? Nope. Overplayed indie band? Nope. Talk radio? Hell no. So I rode down the road with the radio off, taking in the sights as I passed over the river into East Nashville. I got a few awkward looks at red-lights. Perhaps the other drivers preferred to obey a "Christmas Eve and Day Only" rule when wearing their Santa hats. Maybe they didn't need a Santa hat to begin with.

Setting my bags down, I took a shower and went to grab a sandwich with Samantha who arrived a bit later. I wore the hat again, mostly to amuse her. We picked up some wine and other spirits and headed on home. I have not busted into them, mostly because drinking while feeling a little worn down doesn't usually do much good. It is really just a waste of good alcohol. Samantha commented that we either needed to find a way to get me in the holiday spirit, or just pretend the holidays aren't happening until they pass. I am not a fan of either approach.

The excitement of the holiday season starts later and later for me with each passing year. I could go into a long discussion of the commercialization of Christmas, false obligations and the like, but I simply lack the energy. What it all boils down to is that there is not a really reason that I eagerly await Christmas or New Years. Samantha and I exchange our gifts throughout the month of December, and our other gift giving is usually handled via mail or over a lunch. Some folks host family from way off, others travel for pleasure. This is the first Christmas in East Nashville, but it is really just a repeat of the previous years' in Goodlettsville. If the holidays are built around tradition, at least ours have been consistent.

I often use the phrase "childlike wonder" to describe the complete joy one feels around an event or circumstance. My own childhood had quite a few of these moments, when things that other kids might find asinine piqued my curiosity and left awestruck. Playoff hockey games, meeting up with old friends or visiting new places for the first time all bring about this feeling. At one point or another during the holidays, I can usually point to a moment when I have had that experience. It can come in the middle of a busy mall or it can come in quiet hours as I look closer at the Christmas tree. It can come from a church service during advent, or from a compelling story of a need met. As of this hour, I am still searching for that sign that the Christmas season has indeed arrived. It is far more of a heart thing than it is of the senses.

You may be feeling the same way -- perhaps Christmas is not what it used to be, or something just has not quite "clicked" yet. My only advice is to relax, and let it come. Feverishly searching only prolongs the search itself. I am not quite the cynic who would let the month of December pass by just to get through the holidays. Instead, I just have to find a little patience and reflect on what an incredible year it has been. It, that intangible feeling of comfort and joy, will come in time. It does every year.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. My plans are to try and get the apartment straightened so that we can enjoy the long weekend and festivities without tripping over our worldly possessions. We will see how the day progresses after that.