I tapped the calendar insistently with my index finger.
“Where is it?” I asked. “It’s supposed to be right here.”
My kids looked at me, befuddled. “What’s supposed to be there?”
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Panic rose inside me as I comprehended what was missing — what was surely irretrievably missing.
“A week!” I said. “There’s supposed to be another full week between now and Christmas! Half a fortnight, a quarter of a month. It’s gone!”
This is not the first time I’ve lost a full week in December. Every year, in fact, it goes missing, sitting calmly in plain sight, before vanishing without warning. I suspect you may have experienced this nasty phenomenon as well.
It’s quite unnerving, to think I’m on track with my schedule, then have that elusive week just erased from existence. It’s the week I’m supposed to finish my Christmas shopping, do my gift wrapping, make crafty doohickeys to decorate the wrapped gifts, knit hats for my loved ones.
Work projects with end-of-year deadlines are to be completed during the missing week. The pets are supposed to go to the vet. Oh, the list goes on.
Where does it go? Do I have a counting problem? I know seven days equals one week, yet I could have sworn there were two weeks sandwiched between today and Christmas. Yet, as mysterious as the birth of Christ Himself, a wormhole is created between Dec. 1 and Dec. 25, sucking precious time into a black hole. And the days aren’t the only thing missing — that week’s paycheck seems to have vanished along with the time.
Father Time must get a chuckle, watching me count days on my fingers over and over again. Perhaps he gifted my missing week to the Aztecs, hiding it away in their cryptic round calendar. Maybe the world would have, indeed, ended with the final days of the Aztec calendar, if modern moms’ missing weeks hadn’t been tacked onto the end of it.
Or it could be that our extra time in December was actually reallocated — gifted, even — to the children. Haven’t you noticed that in December, while over-extended adults search frantically for more time, their children are counting as the days go by agonizingly slowly, ticking them off on their Advent calendars? For them, the magic of Christmas morning looms far, far away in the distance.
What a curious juxtaposition this week must be for teachers, who themselves surely feel its absence. Yet, as a teacher’s December passes by in double time, the kids they teach are experiencing the slowness of passing time that can only come from an unexpected string of days being plopped onto their calendar, separating the kids from their winter break full of merriment and celebrations.
I’ll be heading to the mall tonight — to cram in some of that holiday shopping I’d scheduled for my missing week, and I think I’ll stop by ole Santa’s setup while I’m at it. I’m going to sit on his lap and ask for just one thing. A 2016 calendar. I will inspect this calendar when it arrives, carefully counting the days of December. If I’ve been a very good girl, perhaps Santa will give me some bonus days. Perhaps next year, I’ll find that week.
Overland Park mom Emily Parnell writes alternate weeks. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @emilyjparnell