Dick Cavett: A Bittersweet Christmas Story - NYTimes.com
Snow was predicted for Lincoln, and there was every reason to think it would be a really fine Christmas.
Having recently received the remarkable gift of puberty with its attendant wonders, I had my hopes up for another great present, not exactly comparable: a longed-for piece of magical apparatus I had reason to believe would be under the tree on Christmas Eve.
We always opened packages then instead of on Christmas Day, and in a sort of Norman Rockwellian tableau: nice warm house, a Nebraska snowfall settling outside and relatives of varying ages and beloved Sandy, my big, manly spaniel, all semi-circled around the gifts arrayed under the tree.
It’s sad to think how cozy such Midwestern family Christmases were when you were that age, and how odiously I now view the allegedly jolly season, with its trampling crowds and extorted gifts. But let that pass.
Back then, in that far-off happier time, Christmas was magical when it finally arrived with excruciating slowness.
Nobody, when you’re that age, could ever convince you that there would come a day when all those chatty, friendly uncles, aunts, parents and grandparents in that comfy circle, contentedly digesting dinner around the tree, would be . . . gone. That you yourself would someday be the sole surviving link in that warm family circle. Unthinkable.