Christmas Is Different Now

My family’s artificial Christmas tree came out of hiding this past weekend, which means Christmas is just down the street, as opposed to being just around the corner. It has been just around the corner since November 1st, if you haven’t noticed.

As I look at our tree I’m reminded of how excited I used to get for Christmas when I was a kid. In fact, some of the ornaments on the tree are handmade by my 6-year-old self back when they let us get our hands dirty in Grade 1 Art.

That was the peak of my artistic abilities.

Also, if you search “Christmas Tree” on Google, a festive background appears.

The lead up to Christmas started at school with an Advent calendar. If you don’t know what that is, it’s like a Willy Wonka-approved countdown clock with 24 mini windows which are opened one day at a time leading up to Christmas.

Behind each window was a chocolate. Who ate the chocolate? Well, the teacher would start at the top of the attendance list and go from there. Unfortunately, I was always near the bottom of the list. As a result of such “fairness”, I never got to go up to the front of the class and receive a chocolate because it would be Christmas break before my name came up.

I’m actually still really bitter about it. Maybe this is why I don’t really care for chocolate?

Sorry, just doing some self-therapy.

But at the time, I didn’t let it get in the way of my excitement for Christmas. From watching Christmas movies on TV, to sucking on candy canes, to sitting on an old man’s lap at the mall (sounds creepy when I put it like that), nothing could bring me down.

Heck, I even loved watching the Santa Claus call-in show on TV. Mr. Claus would be live from the North Pole and kids would call him to let him know what they expected him to haul down their chimney.

Making a list of what I wanted for Christmas was my favourite pastime. I would get out the Toys ‘R Us catalog, flip through it, and write down every single item I wanted. There were a lot.

I was always envious of the kids who were pictured in the catalogue playing with the toys that I coveted. What can I say, marketing works.

I filled my list with toys, video games, sports jerseys, and anything else I could think of.

Then Christmas would arrive, I’d open my presents, and immediately start playing with them while an Iron Chef marathon ran on the TV. No, I didn’t make that last line up.

It was glorious. And I didn’t have to go back to school for another two weeks.

One year, I got a Formula 1 racetrack with miniature cars that were operated by a remote control! I could’ve watched those race cars go around the track for decades. I can still smell them overheating. It was a sad day when it broke.

Somewhere along the way, though, Christmas started to lose its excitement. The last four or five years just haven’t been like they used to be.

I can’t really pinpoint the moment when things started to change, oh wait, I can.

I was at a family Christmas party and one of my relatives suggested that I start paying rent to my parents to live in my their house. Yup, that put a damper on things really quickly.

At the time, I was still in University and only lived at home for four months…why am I trying to justify myself here?

Who does that? At a Christmas “party”, no less.

Whether they were joking or not, it has put me in a foul mood for family gatherings around Christmas. They aren’t fun anymore. It’s just small talk for hours on end where everyone wants to know what you’ve been up to for the past 364 days so they can compare you to others.

I didn’t sign up for this. Why can’t we play Bingo for a $10 grand prize like we did when I was 8? I like Bingo. Everyone likes Bingo. LET’S PLAY BINGO.

I don’t need, nor do I want, people judging me in between bites of their fourth butter cookie with sprinkles.

Christmas Party Tip #37: Head nods and fake smiles normally bring painful conversations to an end, but when they don’t, spilling a little bit of your drink normally does the trick.  

The other day I finally gave in to peer pressure and wrote my annual Christmas list after days of me saying, “It’s the same as last year and the year before that.”

My Christmas list has now turned into the same thing as my birthday list. It includes gift cards to restaurants, books, types of clothes I would accept, mint chocolate bars, and an “other” category which states, “Anything else you think I might like.”

I also printed out a big picture of a panini press and glued it to the back of the list, for reference, and dramatic effect.

Exciting.

I came to the sad realization that I don’t really care that much for gifts at Christmas anymore. I’m not someone who needs “stuff”. In fact, I probably need less stuff but hold on to things for “sentimental value”.

I’m not a hoarder. Back off, TLC.

I almost feel guilty asking for things. Maybe it’s because I know the value of money now. Back then, money was just plastic stuff we played with at school during some math lessons.

All this being said, I want to enjoy Christmas. I really do. I want to find a way to be that little kid again, without needing a million toys to play with.

I want to turn on the TV, watch Home Alone, and enjoy the scene where a cardboard cutout of Michael Jordan is riding around a train set in the living room.

Essentially, I want my childhood back. I don’t want adult conversations about how I spend my days or who I plan to marry. I want food, bingo, and a hug from my grandmother. Is that too much to ask?

I’m just tired of what Christmas has turned into. And yes, I’m not so disillusioned to the point where I don’t know that Christmas is a time for family. I know it is. But I can still whine about it.

I just deleted a four paragraph rant on the monotony and repetitiveness of holidays!

Honestly, I just want it to be Boxing Day already, so I can turn on the TV and watch a bunch of people trample over each another at 5AM as they pursue a discounted flat screen television that they don’t even need.

That’s what I want. And a panini press.

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About Paul

This is the part where I'm supposed to write something interesting about myself and you'll read it and think, "That's not that interesting." So let's not do that and just think about pizza instead, on the count of three. One, two, three. Donuts. Now, wasn't that interesting?
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24 Responses to Christmas Is Different Now

  1. Barb Knowles says:

    Christmas got exciting for me again watching the younger generation (the under 10 year-olds) . I don’t want anything for Christmas except the gift of no family drama.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. heymeghan91 says:

    I’ve felt the same way about Christmas for a while now too. My mom says it loses its luster when you get older but it comes back when you have your own family. I guess I could see that. Sad as it is, I’d rather spend this holiday alone now. I find it peaceful. I’m not going home to see my family till Christmas Day. You can hide with me Paul.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jess says:

    I usually have to write post-it notes to myself for my thoughts as I’m reading your posts so that I don’t forget them haha. I even got upset about what your relative said. How dare they. I don’t blame you for getting in a foul mood around the holidays now. And I know what you mean about the presents. My generic response every year for the past five years has been “Nothing in particular…” But you’re more than welcome to hang with me and my mom this year (in spirit of course). We probably will sit on the couch with hot cocoa and watch Christmas movies haha nothing exciting happening this year.

    P.S. Loved the Hoarders reference 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. peckapalooza says:

    I began to realize that I was no longer experiencing the magic of Christmas back when I was in college. And I lamented this fact to one of my teachers who pointed out that I was no longer a kid, and that I probably wouldn’t ever enjoy the “magic” of Christmas again until I had kids of my own. Needless to say, I still don’t experience that magic anymore. In fact, I get kind of annoyed by it when I attend family gatherings where I’m expected/obligated to buy presents for all of my cousins’ kids who are still enthralled by the “magic”/materialism of Christmas. Every year I have the internal struggle of how badly I wish I lived far away and could come up with a flimsy excuse to not show up for Christmas this year. Mostly because I don’t want to buy Christmas presents for seven kids that I see once a year. I promise, I’m not completely heartless. Probably.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      College took the magic out of it for me too. I only looked forward to Christmas then because it meant exams were done and I could breathe again. Seven kids! Oy that’s rough and a lot of money. I’m sure they appreciate it though I know where you’re coming from.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Umm yeah. I would totally put a stop to that present thing. Does each child give you a gift, or is it all about expectations? Once we hit 4 kids, we said to the rest of the family they could give our kids gifts or not. No obligations, except the grandparents, but we weren’t going to gift to everyone anymore. Maybe a game for the whole family to play instead? Or a one on one uncle outing where you sugar them up and send them back home to mom and dad. Or you can buy them a drum set and toys that make a lot of noise that don’t turn off ever.

      Liked by 2 people

      • peckapalooza says:

        With the grown-ups, we do a white elephant kind of exchange. Everyone brings something that’s thrown into a pile and we make a game of it. But with the kids, it’s an obligation. And, I’m sorry, if I’m obligated to give a gift, it’s an empty gesture. I’m not much of a gift-giver. It’s just not my love language. But I have no problem buying a gift for someone if I happen to be at Target and see a t-shirt and think, “You know, my sister would really like that.” But for kids that I see once a year, I don’t know them. I don’t know what they’re into or what they like. Sending me their Amazon Wishlist is not the way to win me over and convince me to get on board. I’m not Santa Claus. I kind of got into it with my mom over all this and she accused me of not having the Christmas spirit. I disagree, I think I’ve got a more genuine Christmas spirit, considering I’d rather Christmas just be about us getting together as a family and enjoying that time. And, you know, Jesus.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ha! Yes indeed. I say you buck the trend this year or do something small like a framed family photo or contribute directly to a college fund. With 7 kids, that would have longer lasting value.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymous says:

    HAHA. #Preach

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Our elaborate Advent calendar hung on a wall and had 24 various symbols of the season tucked into “daily pockets” at the start of December. The idea was indeed to countdown to Christmas…take out one for each day and put the symbols on a Velcro tree design to create its “ornaments.” However, the symbols weren’t quite tiny enough to fit completely inside those pockets and one pretty much knew each day which symbol was next symbol up (on the tree). By Year Two we would act like we were guessing which symbol was being selected that day…when it was pretty much in plain view. They made it with good intentions…but the execution was a tad off.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Paul,
    Huge fan of advent calendars. (obviously since I made 3 separate versions with corresponding blog posts for them this year.)
    I’m not going to lie and tell you the magic comes back when you have kids. I have 4. This the first year in the past 5 where I’ve loved Jesus and I love Christmas. I loved it in college, but for different reasons. Most of them I will not type for fear of self incrimination.
    My advice for the family gathering is to interview your relatives about their past and favorite Christmas memories. Record them on the Storycorps app or with the memories app for Familysearch.
    People love to talk about themselves, and it will give them less time to criticize you or share unsolicited advice about your current life status.
    Also, do some good for others. That’s what’s worked for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      You’re a wealth of knowledge, Jen! This comment made me feel better, thank you. That’s good advice for the family gathering. I’ll admit it’s awkward sometimes interacting with so many people that I don’t see that often, and it’s hard knowing what to say or ask sometimes.
      I need to catch up on your blog posts!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If it wasn’t for my kids I would probably forget about Christmas sometimes oh and the fact that we leave our tree up all year reminds me to. We figure what’s the point of taking it down when it will only be move into the back basement.

    Liked by 1 person

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