When I was little, December was my favorite time of year. I counted down the days along with my advent calendar, waiting for lights to appear around the neighborhood and for Santa to drop down the chimney.
Now that I’m older, I can’t say it’s my favorite holiday. I can’t say it gives me the same peace it used to bring. I can’t say I’m looking forward to the 25th.
Now, instead of getting excited about seeing my grandparents and cousins, I’m disappointed about how small the gathering will be. The family I used to be excited about seeing has grown apart.
Some of them are out of state. Some of them are resting in heaven. Some of them are busy working or visiting relatives from the other side of the family. Some of them won’t make an appearance on Christmas day, even for five minutes before taking off again. Some of them won’t even bother to make a phone call or send a card.
Now, instead of relaxing during the holidays, I get stressed out during the holidays. I’m worried about whether I’m going to spend Christmas day and eve with my side of the family or my person’s family. I’m worried about how much money I’m spending on presents and ornaments and decorations. I’m worried about whether I left someone off of my shopping list. I’m worried about whether the gifts I get will be bigger than the ones I give.
Now, instead of getting excited about the gifts I could receive, I’m worried about giving gifts. I’m worried about finding the perfect presents and scrounging together enough money to pay for them, along with the ham and cookies I’m going to have to bring to dinner. I’m worried about whether I’m too broke to give my loved ones what they deserve. I’m worried I’ll fail as a daughter, a sister, a friend.
Now, instead of getting excited about the homemade food that will be packed onto the table, I’m worried about ruining my diet. About letting all of my hard work from the rest of the year go to waste. I’m worried about letting myself indulge during the holidays, swearing I’ll make a change once the new year comes, and then never following through with that promise.
I wish that I enjoyed the holidays the way I used to when I was little — and I’m trying my best to make that happen. I’m driving around late at night, looking at lights. I’m inviting my friends over, sipping on eggnog. I’m trying to get back the magic. I’m trying to remember the way Christmas used to make me feel.
Even though some people I care about will no longer make an appearance on Christmas day, I’m trying to remember that the family I have now — the family I created — are all I need. I’m trying to remember this time of year is special and the people around me are special.
I’m trying to remember why Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.