How growing up changes the holidays

When I was eight years old, I was convinced Santa Claus was real.

I swear I saw Rudolph’s nose outside my bedroom window on Christmas eve. I was so convinced that every year I would tell my friends about the experience and they would never believe me, but I stayed true to what I’d thought I’d seen until a few years later when I grew a healthy skepticism for the holidays and I realized my parents were full of shit. (I’ve come to realize Rudolph’s nose was a satellite).

As I’ve grown older and my cynicism has only increased, the holidays have changed. Gone is the feeling of wonder while driving home from Christmas dinner at my grandmother’s house and staring at the sky looking for signs of Santa’s sleigh. Gone is the magical feeling of waking up on Christmas morning to see what Santa left under the tree. And gone is the feeling nothing would ever change and Christmas traditions would always stay the same.

I grew up in a typical household. We didn’t have much so some years my mother had to wrap the presents in newspaper, but we always had something to unwrap. We always had a turkey dinner on the table and we always celebrated with our entire family.

Christmas eve was spent at my grandmother’s house where we would eat Christmas dinner and watch bad Christmas movies together with the tree surrounded with presents lighting up the living room.

My last Christmas like that was two years ago. Last year my grandmother’s cancer returned and she was gone a month before Christmas. Things had changed. The tradition of getting together at my grandmother’s house was over.

I don’t want to make you sad, but unfortunately, this is the reality of growing older. Life feels different from what it once was during the holidays. The time of year we come to know and love as children is suddenly different and every year it feels less and less like the holidays.

I was once Cindy-Lou Who and now I’m the Grinch. I’m not saying I want to ruin Christmas for everyone, but to me, it just doesn’t feel the same as it once did. Since I’ve moved out of my parent’s house, I haven’t had an advent calendar like I did every year as a child. With the fear of ever-increasing debt looming over my head, I can’t buy all the gifts my family deserves. And with no snow on the ground at the beginning of December, the stress of climate change has taken its toll.

I know these things aren’t what make Christmas special, but they embolden my holiday spirit and without them, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas is less than a month away.

With the stress of first semester receding, I want to change my outlook on the holidays and get excited about Christmastime once again. I’ve learned that being a Grinch is a choice. I want to be Cindy-Lou Who again.

I know I won’t be able to return to my childlike state of wonder and excitement, but I can still make the most of it.

I bought an advent calendar. I bought the first gift of the season and I can’t wait to wrap it. And I think I might just send Christmas cards to my friends. I might even bust out the Christmas sweater and hot chocolate.

Just because the world around you changes doesn’t mean you have to change with it.

My heart just grew three sizes bigger.

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