There was a certain sparkle in my eyes as I stared at the Christmas tree. I was small enough that it towered over me, and the shimmering lights, velvet red ribbon, and glittering ornaments were captivated me with pure magic. When the tree goes up, it’s officially Christmas. And I loved Christmas. It was one time of year where I was showered with gifts, surrounded by family, stuffed with delicious food, and rushed to all sorts of exciting events. My spirit was all a glow and my heart was so very warm. However, as I aged, that glow dimmed and that warmth faded. Ever since I graduated college, holly jolly Christmases have been hard to come by.
When I was in college, I had ample amount of time after finals dedicated solely to enjoying the holidays. I took for granted how wonderful a three week vacation is compared to 10 days, which is what I have now. I was able to hop on a plane right after my last final (which was typically the 18th or 19th) and be home several days before Christmas. I could help decorate, plan fun activities leading up to Christmas, and just rest a while. Two years in a row my sister and I planned Christmas around the world. In around four or five days we’d celebrate Christmas traditions from around the world with each day being a different country. It was all I could think about while studying for finals. I also had less responsibility to buy gifts. I was a college student, so no one expected me to afford gifts. I worked part time, so I was able to afford small gifts to my immediate family, but otherwise all I was expected to do was receive. It was much simpler and stress-free back then.
Now that I’m a working adult with bills, student loans and responsibility, the holidays have become much more of a hassle. I have to save enough money to buy gifts for everyone, while making sure my bills get paid, and I have enough for travel expenses. I arrived home just two days before Christmas and my boyfriend and I were exhausted from travel and work. The light of the Christmas tree seemed far less magical as my mind constantly swirled with anxiety relating to buying gifts, traveling, paying bills, etc.
To move forward from this thinking, we must change the way we celebrate and anticipate the holiday season. I always saw them as a celebration of potential to receive and to experience magic for myself. The way I felt when I was young may never be happen again, but it can for someone else. Someone else can have the same passion and warmth that I had if I just give a little. It’s also a time to remember all the good times and hard times of the year and commend your friends and family for overcoming it all. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to celebrate Christmas traditionally. Sometimes I plan to do things that I’ve traditionally done with my family in the past, but then I end up being too tired to do them. Then I feel bad about it, and think the holiday was just bad or something. Instead, treat every holiday like a whole new one. One year you may just decide to chill out and have wine while you marathon British comedies. Don’t try to over plan. Just enjoy your break from work or school and do activities as you feel. So give to others, don’t over plan, and try new things. That’s what Christmas is all about.