Now that Thanksgiving is over, everyone has gone full-blown Christmas mode (although it feels like no one was ever in the Thanksgiving mood to begin with). By now most people have busted out the red and green decorations and retail stores are playing overly-cheery Christmas music on a loop. If you asked me a few years ago, I'd tell you I LOVE Christmas. But recently, I dread Christmas more than I anticipate it.
I know what you're thinking; that I'm just being bitter or trying to be "trendy" by not liking something that literally everyone else enjoys. Sure, maybe I am a little bitter about it. But I don't hate Christmas. I just don't really look forward to it. For me, it's just another one of 365 days in the year.
Growing up, I was a hardcore Christmas fanatic. I loved Christmas music so much that I broke my arm singing to Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You"...in April. I vividly remember my dad and I decorating the front yard with Christmas lights, and we would come up with silly names for each individual reindeer. I remember my mom and I shopping for Christmas dresses and pajamas. I remember stressing over whether we left enough cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer. I remember the feeling of magic in the air. The feeling of innocence.
Now that I'm older, there's no more magic, and my innocence flew out the door a long time ago. Putting up Christmas lights has become more of a chore than a fun activity. I see the stress Christmas used to cause my parents every year, mostly when I was little and still believed in Santa. I know now they barely had the money for everything they fulfilled on my wish list. And not to mention all the mini holiday vacations to Seaworld, Disney and Gaylord Palms. I understand the struggle they went through to make sure I had the best Christmas I could. And it's left a pit of guilt in my stomach ever since. Even now, they still suggest going on a two-day trip or will ask me what I want. But it's just not the same anymore, no matter how hard anyone tries.
For my whole life, it's always been my parents and I. No big family reunion. No big gift exchanges or feasts. And while I love my family, it was hard to see all my friends travel to other states to be with their relatives, or host everyone at their own. I liked the idea of being apart of a big family and having traditions that have been passed down for years.
It doesn't stop there, either. The idea of everyone in town for the holidays gives me anxiety. It's bad enough I go out of my way to avoid seeing people who are in town 24/7, but for the month of December, I'm extra on-edge. It's the time of year where your old friends who you haven't talked to in months hit you up to do the same thing you guys did in high school. You laugh at the same old stories and reminisce on how things have changed. Then you promise you'll make an effort to talk more, but you all know deep down that you won't talk again until spring break or summer rolls around.
I also find it hard to be all holly and jolly when there is so much cruelty in the world. Because like I said, the innocence is gone. I'm aware of the hatred and malice that faces our society. And you can't really unsee it. You don't get to put it on pause. The holidays are no more than a distraction from what's really happening around us.
Yes, you'll still catch me wearing Christmas socks to work and dancing at holiday parties. I still plan on participating in the usual festive activities. All I'm saying is, Christmas just isn't what it used to be, and try as you might, but you can't convince me otherwise.