By Kaitlin Marie
The older you grow, the more the holiday season changes. It grows with you, in a way, and the frame of mind with which you approach the Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah celebrations is a huge factor in whether or not you enjoy the season.
At my ripe old age of 24, this will be the 24th time I participate in these Wintertime festivities. However, now that I’ve graduated college, I’m starting to notice a lot of changes in my life that affect how I celebrate during this holiday season.
1. Time Off
Remember that glorious time called “College”, when you would study/cry yourself into a finals-week-induced breakdown and then spend the entire month of December lounging around your parents’ house in your pajamas all day and eating pie for breakfast? Those magical, beautiful days are gone. In their place, I now have endless work weeks, and the glittering promise of only having a day off on Christmas Day. This experience must be old hat for anyone who has been in the workforce a while, but for me, it’s a cold, harsh reality-smackdown.
Also, I have to work the Saturday before Christmas. Lame sauce.
One strange and exciting part of being what some would deign to consider a “grown up” during the holidays is that you get to decorate your own space. Of course, I’ve already dabbled in Christmas decorating by dint of spraying snowflakes on my college dorm windows and owning a miniature Christmas tree. And accidentally killing an amaryllis.
However, this year is different. This year I bought stockings and sewed my boyfriend’s and my name on the tops. I then hung them very ceremoniously over my couch (My apartment has no fireplace) with command hooks (because I am a classy broad).
I’ve also been busting my DIY chops, and I spent the last 2 nights burning the crap out of my fingertips with hot glue. However, by the time I was done, I had an adorable burlap rose wreath to go above my freshly sewn stockings.
More importantly, this year I bought a Christmas tree. Sure, it’s a fake tree. A small, fake tree. But it’s MY small, fake tree. And it’s really super cute and tonight I plan on adorning it with the unused ornaments that I will steal from my parents’ house because even though I’m grown-up enough to have a tree, I’m cheap/broke enough to not want to purchase my own ornaments. Plus, these ornaments have History*.
* They are free.
When I was a little kid and I was having a bad day, I used to lay in my bed and close my eyes REALLY tight and pretend that when I opened them, it would be Christmas morning, and I could go open presents and everything would be okay. Nowadays, when I have a bad day I just close my eyes and wish for beer. Or a winning lottery ticket.
And while Christmas time is still a lot of fun, the excitment of getting presents has more or less evaporated. This is because grown ups rarely get actual gifts. On my dad’s side of the family, where my 22-year-old sister is the youngest grandchild, we have been doing the “Christmas card + cash or check” exchange for nearly a decade. Money is always awesome and appreciated (and ACCEPTED, if you feel like sending me some), but nothing beats gleefully ripping through an immaculately wrapped box and getting that toy that you so desperately wanted.
Also, to add to the anti-climactic nature of the season, my parents (who are great and I thank for this) actually gave me my Christmas money last weekend, so I could spend part of it buying myself a new winter coat because I was in Costa Rica for the better part of the last two winters and none of my old winter stuff was sufficient for this Midwestern cold.
On a brighter side, I also used the cyber Monday sales to my advantage and bought myself an iPod touch. Merry Christmas to ME!
(No word on whether I will open it and use it the minute I get it in the mail, or put it under my little tree and patiently wait until Christmas.)
I think the strangest and most difficult part of being a twenty-something during the Holiday season is seeing the changes in how your family celebrates. Older relatives pass away, aunts and uncles move across the country, someone sells the house where you used to celebrate, your older cousins have children and start having Christmases with their own families.
This year my grandma mentioned several times that this would be the last year she hosts Thanksgiving, as she is planning on putting her enormous house (which my late grandpapa built) on the market. While I completely understand and think that this is a positive change, it’s hard not to view this Thanksgiving as the end of an era or a small piece of my childhood.
I know that in the next 5 to 10 years, the big family get-togethers will start to break apart. Eventually my parents will be the grandparents and hosting holiday celebrations for my sister and I, our husbands, and our kids.
It feels weird to look at Christmas this way, to feel the oncoming, inevitable changes and the stripping away of your oldest, most cherished holiday traditions. It makes me feel incredibly nostalgic. I notice my age quite painfully.
And that sort of stretched, half-excited-half-frightened feeling? That’s what growing up feels like, I suppose. If only it wasn’t so damn complicated.
My CompliKAITed Life is a column by Kaitlin Marie running on Kate-book.com every other Wednesday at noon. You can read all about Kaitlin’s Zombie Apocalypse plans on her blog Zombies4breakfast.com. Oh, and follow her on Twitter here or on Pinterest here. She pins obsessively.