How Christmas Changes as You Grow Up

todayDecember 7, 2021 60

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By Celeste Parler
Web Content Contributor

I knew Christmas was approaching when my church was covered in tinsel, wreaths and fancy tablecloths. With a display of the silver Christmas tree and poinsettias surrounding the stage where the worship team stood.

The Christmas season is when my mom plays her CD of the Christmas album of her favorite Christian alternative band from the 1990s on the way home from Thanksgiving out in the country. We pass the same Sonic and Walgreens in Cut-N-Shoot, Texas, and I look out the car window wondering what I will wish for and when will be the next time my family will get together.

Christmas isn’t like it was back then. I don’t go to church anymore. My family can barely find the time or the heart to see each other. We don’t even listen to CDs in the car.

In all seriousness, I think we all can relate to the fact that celebrating Christmas as a kid feels totally different than as an adult. There is a lot to be said about evolving traditions and the responsibility one feels to celebrate Christmas “right.” You probably weren’t shopping on Amazon for a last-minute present for your parents or co-workers at age eight. But at 18, you think about how to balance your work in San Marcos with your second life in your hometown, trying to savor the holiday spirit as best as you can.

Whatever happened to the magic of Christmas? Waking up on Christmas morning to see presents under the tree and stockings full of candy and knick-knacks. The family is all together in their matching pajamas making breakfast and hot chocolate. If you were lucky, you got to play in the snow and warm up next to the fireplace with your brand new toys and gadgets you had asked for all year.

I get that for a lot of people the magic may have never left their hearts and their homes. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing. Christmas just felt so much more important to me when it wasn’t my responsibility. I had a lot of values dealt to me as a kid that I don’t hold anymore. Maybe the value of Christmas is an example of that.

But I want to think that Christmas can be something worthwhile to me. I never stopped loving Christmas decorations and the grand displays of trees and lights. It makes me feel like a kid again. The spectacle and aesthetic of Christmas have never turned me away.

The reason I view holiday spirit from a different angle today is because of my changing perceptions of the role I occupy. I had a lot of trouble as a kid identifying myself. I couldn’t wrap my head around who or what I was supposed to be. It was a lot easier to absorb what adults told me had to be important, including Christmas. Like many college students and almost adults, I find the answers to those questions easier to find but harder to articulate. I suppose my journey to find myself mirrors the way I am still searching for what Christmas means to me.

After all, I won’t be observing Christmas as a religious holiday but more as a time off from school when I get presents and hope the dinner table doesn’t get political. My house won’t have more than the standard tree from Lowe’s with our handmade ornaments and the stockings on the wall. As for my bedroom in my apartment… nothing has changed.

I’m at peace with the fact my family doesn’t get along the way I saw them bond over the holiday spirit when I was a kid. Let adults make their own decisions and let my younger siblings and I get to trade the candy from the stockings at my grandparent’s house.

I embrace with open arms the fact that my Christmas will never be the same. I love Christmas for what it is, even if it looks nothing like what you see on greeting cards or Hallmark movies. I want my Christmas to be authentic to myself. Keep what matters and scrap what doesn’t give me that warm, fuzzy feeling I love around the holidays.

What I know now is that Christmas can be as valuable to me as I want it to be. My Christmas has never been perfect, no matter how much effort my parents put in. Regarding Christmas as an adult, even though I see the behind-the-scenes and internalize the real holiday dread, I won’t let it stop me from appreciating the magic. The magic that Christmas can be whatever I want it to be even if things aren’t the way they used to be.

Featured Image by Celeste Parler

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