When I was younger, the holiday season actually was the happiest time of the year. The moment December arrived, I was in a better mood. I was looking forward to the days ahead. I was filled with excitement. I couldn’t wait to spend time with my family, bake cookies, and see what Santa left me beneath the tree.
Now that I have grown older, my attitude about the holidays has changed.
I still have the front porch strung with lights. I have a tree towering in the corner. I have decorations sprinkled across every flat surface in my home.
So far, I have listened to holiday songs on repeat. I have seen Santa pass by on his firetruck to toss tiny candy canes to the neighborhood children. I have tasted hot chocolate and started popping open doors on my advent calendar.
Those traditions should have put me into the holiday spirit by now, but for some reason, I am not in a Christmassy mood. It does not feel like the holiday season has arrived. It does not even feel like December has arrived.
It doesn’t feel like Christmas, not even a little bit, and I cannot place my finger on why.
It might be the growing differences between the way holidays are celebrated as an adult and the way holidays were celebrated as a child. I rarely see the family members who used to mean the world to me.
Some of them have moved across the country. Some of them have passed away. Some of them live close enough to visit on weekends but we still don’t see each other. We are busy. We are leading separate lives. We don’t have the time or the energy to meet up unless there is a special occasion.
During the holidays, we might send a Christmas card or at least a text saying Merry Christmas once the actual day arrives. We might even see each other in person before we split apart to visit our partner’s relatives. When that happens, we will have a ten-minute conversation at most where we swear we will see each other again soon, where we gripe about how distant everyone has grown, where we set plans that we are never going to follow through on.
Or maybe I am not in a Christmassy mood because the holidays are supposed to be about giving and lately it seems like the world is only interested in taking.
Maybe I have become a pessimist, a skeptic, a grinch. Maybe the good cheer bothers me because it seems forced, fake, artificial. Maybe I am sick of pretending to be happy because I am searching for authentic happiness.
Or maybe not. I’m not exactly sure what has been bothering me lately. I’m not sure why Christmas does not seem like Christmas anymore.
Every year, it seems like my holiday spirit grows dimmer and dimmer. I wish I could hold onto the feeling I had as a child. I wish this really was the happiest time of the year for me. But it’s only another day.