The Last Christmas

Madeline and Kameron Forrest at Congress Hall

It’s the last Christmas. It’s the last everything right now.

My son Kameron is in his senior year of high school. Next year, he’ll be in college. 

And every celebration, every tradition has become “the last.” “I’ll never be able to go trick or treating again,” he said at Halloween. 

Every year on the last Friday of school before Christmas break, I take my four kids on a nostalgic journey to Cape May. But this year, the “last” came early.

We went to Cape May for our holiday adventure a few weeks earlier. We’ll be spending Christmas this year in Florida with my wife’s brother and his fiancé -- and also celebrating my wife Kris’ 50th birthday. 

So on the last Friday before the break, we’ll be on our way to the Sunshine State.

We’ve never gone anywhere at Christmas time. We’ve always been firmly anchored to our home. So this year, the “last” isn’t even the same.

My late mother Libby wrote many columns over the years—wondering how her kids got so big. I don’t know how Kameron became a senior. 

Still etched in my mind, his first Christmas in Massachusetts where I was a doctoral student at UMass in 2001. I remember staying up half the night with my late father Mark on Christmas Eve, putting together a wooden rocking horse. 

Flash, it’s 17 years later. And we’re done looking at colleges. He’s done applying to colleges.

He’s an Honor’s student at Collingswood High School, much more than I ever was at Lower Cape May Regional High School. But we share the writing gene. He’s constantly writing novels.

My mom would have been so proud.   

It was our last time in Cape May at Christmas while Kam was still a “kid.” And unlike past years, it wasn’t all four kids along. Josh and Elijah opted out to spend time with friends. But you would expect that—they’re 15 and 12 now. 

It was just Kam and his 12-year-old sister Madeline, who’s been there for Kam so many times. He wanted to do all things we usually do, and she seemed to want to make sure they were a little more special. 

Buy the pound of fudge at Fudge Kitchen that we’ll eat on Christmas morning. Take a picture in front of the giant nutcracker at Congress Hall. Count the Santas on the outside of the Virginia Hotel on Jackson Street.

This time we embraced each moment a little longer as we bathed in the Cape May Christmas. After all, this was the last.  

Forrest an associate professor of communication at Atlantic Cape Community College. His late mother Libby Demp Forrest Moore wrote the Joyride column for this newspaper for 20 years.