When you’re 5: There are few things as magical as having a whole month dedicated to looking sparkly and beautiful, and since your only real job is helping your parents with the things that are well within your reach, it’s not like it involves any actual work. You put a couple pieces of tinsel on the bottom branches of the tree, you get congratulated and given a piece of chocolate out of your advent calendar. It’s win-win on all counts.
When you’re 25: The idea of decorating as being a “magical” activity is quickly replaced with decorating as being a “time-consuming” and “expensive” activity. Yes, it’s awesome to actually go out and get a mini-tree and some knick knacks to sprinkle around your apartment to add to the festive vibe, but who the hell has time for that? And speaking as someone who once decorated an apartment with several roommates, when it comes time to clean it up and box it away, suddenly your cohabitants aren’t so pumped about pitching in. (As far as the advent calendar, I think it’s pretty clear that the concept of “only eating one chocolate per day” works only when someone is preventing you from having access to the box.)
When you’re 5: Soooooo many presents just for you — you are swimming in a veritable sea of gifts! And everyone finds it adorable for you to open them! And everyone is happy just to give! And no one expects anything in return! It is wonderful.
When you’re 25: Okay so basically between Thanksgiving and New Year’s you’re just not going to have any money ever again because ostensibly every person you’ve ever met for more than ten minutes now requires a personalized gift from you, and that shit is unreasonably expensive. Baking cookies for everyone who isn’t super important, despite at one point seeming like too time-and-labor-heavy an investment come holiday time, now seems like the poor man’s version of still being able to participate in this holiday.
When you’re 5: To be honest, at the age of five, there is not a whole lot of interest in family coming over unless there are sweet cousins with whom to play. Otherwise it’s going to be a whole lot of avoiding smelly uncles and cheek-pinching aunts and wishing they would all just leave their toys at the door and stop bothering you.
When you’re 25: Though the act of seeing family gets much sweeter when you are able to appreciate them on a more human level (and it’s nice to finally be somewhere where you’re getting a constant stream of good, free food), the act of just getting to family in and of itself is kind of a huge bitch. You suddenly gain new appreciation for the people who had to fly across the country to join in the festivities, as you now know how crushingly expensive it can be. Also, you have gone from dislike of certain family members based on their general smell of cheap cologne and coffee breath, and have now moved on to disliking certain family members because they are lame people with terrible political views and vague tinges of bigotry.
When you’re 5: Pretty much everything — from the chocolates coming from seemingly all directions, to the giant ham or turkey in the middle of the table at Christmas dinner — is awesome. You have no idea why, but people are just constantly giving you delicious things to eat, and no one is giving you limits on how much dessert you’re allowed to consume after any given meal. It’s amazing.
When you’re 25: This may be one of the only aspects of Xmas that remains a constant. Aside from your newfound awareness of how much of a toll the holiday season can take on your otherwise-responsible waistline, the luster of being surrounded by delicious food and portions that would make a particularly obese pig rear back in fear and disgust is something that simply never wears off.
When you’re 5: There’s not a whole lot to get out of holiday parties as a five-year-old, except that someone forced you to wear fancy clothes and say hello to several dozen people you don’t know or care about who, most of the time, do not have presents for you. You may, however, get appeased with delicious snacks while the party is going on, so it’s not an entire loss.
When you’re 25: As with many things in life, now that you realize the drunken majesty that is egg nog, hot cider, and punch, Christmas parties are amongst the brightest stars in the entire holiday galaxy. Where else are you encouraged to get semi-belligerent with everyone from coworkers to long-lost acquaintances whilst wearing a sparkling sweater and trying to corner your crush under a sprig of mistletoe. (By the way, just a general question for the public, has anyone actually ever been to a party where there was a legitimate sprig of mistletoe hanging? And were people actually using it as intended? Because that seems like a recipe for awkwardly being expected to kiss people such as the guy at work who won’t leave you alone, or one of your first cousins.) In any case, Christmas parties are amazing, and if you’re not making the most out of the season’s constant excuses to be throwing them, I don’t really know what you’re doing with your life.