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Amid Christmas’ carols and glitter, a treasure trove of memories

Didn’t we just do this? Wasn’t it just three months or so ago that catalogs were clogging our mailboxes and we were hitting the stores and online sites, shopping for Christmas 2011?

Where did the year go?

Where have all the years gone?

Time is such a deceiver. When we’re kids, time flows like cold molasses: Christmas takes forever to arrive. Summer vacation is an agonizing eternity away. Will we ever be grown up?

But all the while, as we yearn for this or that milestone way out in the future somewhere, moments and days and years are slip, slipping by. Years suddenly become decades, and before we know it, in a flash, we find ourselves in the senior citizen contingent, cataloging aches and pains.

It’s when our own kids come along that time really jumps to warp speed. While we’re immersed in the maelstrom of child-rearing and work and carpooling and Little League and all the things attendant to being grownups, years are swirling past, faster, ever faster.

Not that long ago, it seems, our son and daughter were riding tricycles and playing hide-and-seek in the back yard, gleefully tossing snowballs on a winter’s day, chasing lightning bugs in the summer gloaming.

Then, poof! In an instant they were grown and gone.

I look back over the gaping chasm of decades at the black-and-white photos of them, tykes clad in their fuzzy jammies before a Christmas stockings-bedecked fireplace, and recall the joy and wonder and innocence as they awaited Santa. Now, incredibly, they themselves are nearing AARP eligibility.

The eldest of our four darling granddaughters will soon turn 16, is almost as tall as I am, and can hardly wait to get her driver’s license. Only a brief moment ago, wasn’t it, that she was a baby cuddled in my arms? The second oldest just turned 10; her eyes twinkle as she ever so competently demonstrates to her klutzy grandpa the intricacies of his iPhone. And the twins (one blonde, the other red-haired — how’s that for genetic anomaly?), who only an eye’s blink ago I was bouncing on my now arthritic knees — can they already be second-graders, anxiously awaiting Santa’s arrival?

Amid the carols, the scents, the glitter of Christmas, there is also, inescapably, a wistfulness, a recalling of times when the cares and pressures of the world had not so much intruded, before the all-too-soon farewells to parents, friends, loved ones left so many empty places in our lives.

This Christmas, there is a collective national and global heartbreak for all the families in Connecticut whose memory of this season will be forever tarnished by the act of incomprehensible madness that tore their children and loved ones from them. Our hearts grieve for them.

Christmas, of all seasons, is memory-laden. From recollection of our own earliest childhood Christmases to those with children and grandchildren, family, friends, we savor the remembrances of all who are woven into the tapestry of our lives.

As we once again unite in observance and celebration of that long-ago Bethlehem birth, may your Christmas be filled with happiness, the joy of children, family, friends — and a wealth of treasured memories to add to the storehouse of the years that all too quickly speed past.

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